A visit to Mango Men: Richard Campbell & sons

Mango expert Richard Campbell and his sons run their small business, Mango Men, selling fruits from their tiny grove of choice mango varieties.

If you’ve got any experience with the tropical fruit-growing scene in South Florida, you know Richard Campbell. For many years Campbell was the curator of tropical fruits at Fairchild Tropical Garden, travelling the world to bring back excellent varieties of tropical fruits, and working out the best methods to cultivate them back here in Florida. At Fairchild, Dr Campbell organized the International Mango Festival each year, where he was the very public face of the festival.

Many of us have been educated by Campbell in his numerous videos online, where he teaches aspects of grafting fruit trees, pruning them, and cultivation. In one online video, you can see him on a fruit-collecting trip, climbing a tree in the jungle in Bali to retrieve scion wood of the rare wani, the Balinese white mango, to bring this fruit variety back to Florida.

Ian Campbell offers visitors samples of the choice mango varieties that the Mango Men grow.

Today Campbell works for Ciruli Brothers, a grower and shipper of tropical fruits and vegetables. But on the side, he and his sons have a little business: on their tiny half-acre piece of land, they have a mini-orchard of their favorite varieties of mangos. During mango season, they sell boxes of mixed varieties of these excellent mango varieties on weekends from their home.

I visited them in early June, and got some mangoes. They have the fruits arranged by variety in crates, spread out in their carport area, and visitors line up, while Richard and his sons slice up fruits to hand out tasting samples, and they assemble mixed boxes of the different varieties, writing the variety name on each fruit with a marker. The day I was there, son Ian Campbell was helping out to pack boxes for customers and ring up sales.

I was pretty excited about all the excellent mango varieties available.

Half the fun of being there was just being around Richard Campbell – it was fun to meet him in person after many years of reading his research papers and watching his videos. He is quite a powerhouse, telling stories about the different varieties, and giving tips for the best way to grow and harvest mangoes.

Campbell explained that they grow their mangoes with no chemical fertilizers, no herbicides, and surprisingly to me, no irrigation once the trees are established. He stressed the importance of not irrigating mango trees, not even with drip, in order to get top quality fruits.

This is typical of what you get in a box of mixed varieties from Mango Men. Every week during mango season, the exact varieties available shift.

Every week during mango season, the Campbells post a list on Facebook of what varieties they have available that week, and they also send out an email. At the time of my visit, the price was $35 for a mixed box, as shown in the photo.

The mangoes have been outstanding; each variety has a different balance of fruity flavors and textures. So far my favorite is ‘Fairchild’ – I love its rich, amber-honey taste with autumnal flavor notes.

Note: if you’re in west-central Florida, on Tuesday June 25th, Ian Campbell will be giving a presentation to the Sarasota Garden Club: “Harvesting and Growing Fruit on the Mango Men Orchard”. Ian will bring a number of gourmet mango varieties for tasting.


3 thoughts on “A visit to Mango Men: Richard Campbell & sons

  1. I’m going to ask one of the same questions I keep asking people and the internet and hope I get a different answer. (Ever done that?)
    I have a place in Yoakum, Texas, climate zone 9a(at least 8b) and I want to grow mangos. I think I’ve got Mexican avocados covered now.
    What I keep getting as an answer is that there are no more-cold-hardy mangos. They die in the cold.
    Bill Schneider (“Avocado Whisperer?) introduced me to the concept that sudden temperature changes are different from gradual temperature changes, and are why California cold is milder on trees than Texas (all-of-a-sudden) cold.
    Any hope for a mango variety for me?

    Like

    1. Hi John. I’m not super knowledgeable about mangoes. But my understanding is there aren’t any mango varieties that have significantly greater cold tolerance than any other mango. I think a more promising strategy in your area would be to grow the most dwarfish mango varieties, pruning to help keep them low, and grow them under a hoop house that you cover just for the winter.
      About what type of cold trend is easiest on plants, I think it depends on the plant. For some types of plants, the gradually dropping temperatures typical of the West Coast might help them adjust better than the wild temperature swings typical of the south central and south eastern US. But some plants just don’t acclimate to cool/cold weather, and for them it’s better to have brief temperature dips than long periods of slowly dropping temps. Coconut palms, for example, grow great in the southern third of the Florida peninsula, despite the fact that much of the region is subject to light frost many winters. But they won’t grow even in frost-free areas of Southern California, because of the extended periods of cool weather in winter.

      Like

Comments are part of the fuel that keeps bloggers going! If you enjoyed reading this post, please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by. Thanks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s