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Meet Robyn Burnham new Chelsea Farmers Market Assistant Manager

Photo by Lisa Carolin. Robyn Burnham.

By Lisa Carolin

The onsite Chelsea Farmers Market begins Saturday, May 1, at Palmer Commons and runs from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

The onsite Wednesday Chelsea Farmers Market begins May 5 at the Chelsea State Bank lot, located at Old US-12 and South Main Street, and runs from 1-5 p.m.

Market manager Emily Griswold is pleased to introduce her new Assistant Market Manager Robyn Burnham. Burnham may be a familiar face because she was a regular volunteer during the 2020 market season. She’s been doing much of the work to make the online/pickup market a success. She’s looking forward to more in person interaction this season.

“I most look forward to making connections between farmers/producers and their customers,” said Burnham. “I look forward to being the interface but also mentioning something to each customer about one of the products that I admire or suggesting a new way to prepare a product. I also look forward to the customers sharing with me their favorite recipes and uses for the products. Because we have a fledgling farm of our own, I hope I can get advice from the experienced farmers who sell at the market.”

Burnham has been a shopper at the Chelsea Farmers Market for many years.

I like being in the heart of Chelsea with people strolling in from other shopping, dining, or exercise and picking up their food,” she said. “We do have adequate parking, given we are in the city center, which is also a big plus. I love the friendly producers–it is the prime reason that I go to Chelsea for my shopping. I like to learn everyone’s names and then remember them as I eat or enjoy their products!”

Burnham grew up in southern California where her father owned a grocery store in the heart of avocado and orange grove country. She attended college at the University of California Berkeley and then earned a Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Both degrees were in botany.

“I worked at the Smithsonian in Washington DC, and then at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque, New Mexico until settling at the University of Michigan, where I taught botany until retiring (early!) a couple years ago,” said Burnham. “My passion and research was on tropical plants over my entire career: early on with fossil tropical plants (yes rocks!) and eventually transitioning to modern plants from the Amazon basin. Now my research focuses on tropical climbing plants: lianas or woody vines and I am currently involved in a large project in Brazil that asks what the effect of fragmenting forests (cutting forests into smaller pieces) is on plant climbers.”

Burnham is currently serving a 3-year term as director of the Edwin S. George Reserve (a University of Michigan research site) near Pinckney. Burnham has lived in Dexter Township with her husband John for the last 15 years.

“Professionally, the area fulfills my desires because I do research on and love plants,” she said. “I can absorb their subtleties and learn all they teach me by being close to them. Passing that on as a professor is a goal I held deeply and still do. We are very lucky to be here.”

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