ImageIt wasn't that long ago when the milkman left dairy goods on your stoop.  The milk truck would do the rounds in your neighborhood leaving milk in glass jars, and sometimes butter and other products.  That was the idea behind Garden Gate Delivery, but the company delivers a much wider range of foods and has a twenty-first century twist.  The milkman used to knock on your door when it was time to pay, but modern customers order on their computers.

"Customers check us out on the Web site," says owner Marlo Capoccia .  "Once they order from us it's pretty hands-off for them.  They tell us what they want.  I go to the farms and grab what they need or get it out of our warehouse, and deliver it to them.  Because they pay with their credit card there is nothing for them to do after that until they reorder."

Capoccia features locally produced foods, delivering goods from local farms, bakers, and other companies.  She delivers sodas from Ithaca Beer Company, and even had a local chip provider for a time.  While she carries many natural foods, she is thinking of expanding her line away from the area so that her customers can get staples she couldn't get locally.  She also has lots of pastries and sweets.

Capoccia displays some of her foods at Lansing Harbor Festival

With gas prices soaring, Capoccia calculates the 'food miles' she saves her customers by delivering to their doors.  She calculates that a four mile drive to Wegmans could put 3.56 pounds of C02 into the atmosphere.  And that's just on the delivery end.  By picking up products locally she is saving enormous trucking mileage.  She says that the average produce in the grocery store travels 1,500 miles from farm to 'fridge.

Capoccia got the idea for Garden Gate Delivery when she had her first child and began to think about what foods she wanted to put into her body.  Around five years ago she and her parents thought about opening a family business.  Although they ultimately didn't do it, the idea of a milkman delivery service stuck in her mind.  Once her third child turned two she decided it was time to go back to work.  "I didn't think I could go back to a nine to five job.  I wanted to be home with my kids, so I started thinking about what my choices were.  Delivery service just kept coming back to me."

A food crisis strengthened her resolve.  "Meadowsweet had been offering yogurt that we absolutely loved at Wegmans and Greenstar," she recalls.  "They stopped selling it.  When that stopped being available I sort of panicked and thought, 'How are families going to get these good things?'  That, combined with my need to go back to work came together.  I started researching it, and put my food interest background together with business."


She offers a wide variety of mostly local foods including appetizers, baking supplies, breads, breakfast foods, chips and dip, coffee, tea, sauces, prepared foods, eggs, and, of course, dairy products.  She even offers cookbooks and 'Foodie Books.'   Her Web site is simple to use, informative and fun, with tips and menus, fun facts, and local recipes.

Capoccia plans to retrofit her diesel delivery truck to run on veggie oil to further reduce the carbon footprint of her service, and seems embarrassed that she hasn't gotten to that yet.  But while she has some volunteer and family helpers, she has been doing nearly everything herself.  She has a New York State certified warehouse in her house that includes refrigeration, a freezer and shelf space.  Oftentimes she will pick up food fresh from the farm after getting orders on her Web site.  Even though she has thermal bags to keep food fresh, she tries to deliver late in the day so it will still be cool and fresh when her customers get home.

When she started Garden Gate Capoccia began servicing just the city of Ithaca.  After a few weeks she realized that was too small a market, so she expanded to the Town of Ithaca.  This summer she began serving Lansing and Ellis Hollow as well, and says that she would like to add Trumansburg.

Marlo Capoccia

Garden Gate customers like the personal touch, and often stop to chat about the business.  She uses the opportunity to sound them out about what improvements they would like, and was surprised to learn that most would rather she charge more for products than charge a separate delivery fee.  She has been test marketing some products at the higher price, and says that if it continues to go well she will drop the delivery charge.

Meanwhile she is enjoying building the business.  "I love working with the farms," she says.  "The people have such integrity, and they really believe in what they're doing.  It's just remarkable the amount of work they put into it.  On a more personal level, my family gets to do this with me.  They help me pack my bags, and they visit the farms with me.  That's really satisfying, and it was part of my goal."