Local Folks: The Burnham Family

Local Folks: The Burnham Family
Brandi, Lily, Ella, and Jen Burnham, August 2020

Jen and Brandi Burnham are the owners of Lush Leaves, a San Marco plant nursery. They opened their Hendricks Avenue doors in 2019. In addition to selling organically grown houseplants there, they offer workshops and classes, host discussions at local garden clubs, and plan vendor events that promote other businesses within the community. “Our outside activities, when we’re not at work, revolve around our kids,” Jen said.

The Burnham family in their back yard

Jen and Brandi’s family consists of two daughters, a dog and a camera-shy cat. The daughters, 11-year-old Lily and 8-year-old Ella, attend Loretto Elementary. When they’re not in school and their moms aren’t working, the Burnhams are a family who loves MOSH, the zoo, any historic park they can explore and learn from, and being outdoors as often as possible. Family fun is clearly a motto their Mandarin household lives by.

“We like to be beach bums,” Jen said. A unique hobby the Burnhams have is shark tooth hunting, particularly in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra. “We find, oh my goodness, on average, 30-40 per hour between the four of us,” Brandi said. Jen and Brandi are knowledgeable enough about sharks to know that the fish have an infinite supply of teeth.

Since Brandi is a native of St. Augustine, the family has a list of special places there where they like to make memories, including the St. Augustine Aquarium, where they snorkel.

The Burnham family at St Augustine Aquarium

Jen comes from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and has been here since 2014. “I’m pretty local compared to some other Floridians,” she said. “The most local thing about Jen is the fact that she’s married to me,” Brandi pointed out.

Ella is the only family member who’s a Jacksonville native. As such, she has made the Jaguars the Burnham’s official team. “So, we’re super big Jags supporters now. The girls are really into football and are loving having a team to cheer for,” Jen said. The family believes they’re the team’s good luck charm.

One of the many things the Burnhams love about the historic districts of Jacksonville is being able to walk and enjoy the shops and restaurants. “Our kids have their own little purses, and they get to go and patron the stores and be part of the community,” Jen said.

Jen and Brandi’s girls prefer big adventures over birthday presents. Lily requested a yellow helicopter ride. Ella opted for a swim with dolphins. “All the fun stuff,” Brandi said. And they take their Brussels Griffon, named Mika, wherever she’s permitted. “She goes on 90% of our adventures with us.” Coco the cat, the sixth female of the house, “stays home and meows at us,” Brandi said.

The Burnham family smiling

The Burnhams ride go-karts, and they ride the JTA Skyway. They like to exit at Hemming Plaza and visit the main library. Sometimes, they’ll cross the river to the Batt Family Fun Center to play indoor, glow-in-the-dark, putt-putt golf.

The Burnham family appreciates simpler outings as well. “We try to catch as many sunrises and sunsets as we can,” Brandi said. They’ll drive from Jacksonville down to Alpine Groves, and even farther down to Shands Bridge. “Everywhere we can catch them,” Jen added. Their favorite San Marco sunset spot they’re keeping secret. But the wall at Riverfront Park near Landon Park runs a close second. Of course, Walter Jones Historical Park near their home is on their viewing list as well. They go there with a telescope in hand.

“We like to be out and about in the city,” Jen said. Those jaunts include the four of them on scooters downtown. The girls each have their own, and their moms rent the larger ones from pay-by-the-hour vendors. Brandi gave a shout-out to the City of Jacksonville for letting them be there.

The Burnham family viewing sunset on Southbank Riverwalk

The Southbank Riverwalk is another place the Burnhams explore often. Walking up an appetite sometimes leads them to one of their favorite San Marco restaurants; Seafood Island is at the top of the girls’ list. “Our children will swear by their blackened fish. If they don’t want to eat there every night, I’m lying,” Brandi said.

“We love local! And we push for it,” said Jen.

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)