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Edmonton farmers work to make holiday hampers last

A local food hamper program is looking to stretch donations even further by adding in fresh Alberta produce — the kind designed to weather a Canadian winter.

“We’re trying to encourage people to provide food that will stretch beyond that Christmas table dinner,” says Emily Mardell of the Holiday Hamper program.

Under Holiday Hampers, donors — also known as elves — adopt another family and shop for the makings of a festive meal and small gifts. The Junior Chamber of Edmonton pitches in roasting pans and turkeys, and local farmers donate some of their crops.

That farm-to-hamper component is called the Healthy Hamper Initiative, and sees Edmonton-area producers from the Downtown Farmers Market pitching in with some of their wares.

“Cabbage, carrots, beets, onions, potatoes,” lists off Dieter Kuhlmann, a grower behind the eponymous Kuhlmann’s Market Gardens and Greenhouses, and chair of the Downtown Market.

“It’s healthy food, it’s nutritious food, it’s food that can be transformed into anything that’s of value or tradition to your family,” Mardell adds.

Kuhlmann says part of the reason he got involved was to help introduce newcomers to food grown locally.

“I came here as an immigrant myself, so I know what it’s like to have to find your way and get used to the kinds of foods that are prevalent.”

To highlight those Alberta veggies, Mardell — who is also a registered dietitian — shares this recipe:


Kuhlmann says local root vegetables can last in temperature-controlled cold storage for most of the winter.

The hamper program is also putting out a call for financial donations.

“We’re very shy on our donations for turkeys right now,” says Mardell, pointing out $35 will pay for a turkey and that those donations are now tax-deductible.

To donate to the Holiday Hamper Program, or for more information on getting involved, visit

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