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.

#Anacardiaceae #Mangifera #Mangiferaindica #mango #wheretobuyfruit

9 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?


    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.


  2. John Day
    This is great, I have appreciated the insight and am motivated to grow my own mangoes especially that I have adequate land and the issue of low temperatures does not apply in my case. I will need some scions though. I hope I will manage to get some from the Mango Men.
    B N Phiri Eastern Zambia

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Are you able to mail mangos to my daughter in Ocala,FL? Hopefully some varieties that
    Would do well in that climate.


    1. Dr Campbell and his sons are in the midst of their mango season, and they ship boxes of fruit out every week. You can find them as Mango Men on Facebook to get notifications, or email them at mangomenhomesteadfl@gmail.com to get put on their weekly mailing list of what varieties they are offering. That’s for shipments of mango fruits. If you’re looking for mango trees, Ocala is in an iffy climate zone for growing them. The most recent couple of winters in the Ocala area have been mild enough to be mango friendly, but many winters in the area get cold enough to kill a mango tree.


  4. A hoop house is a great idea. if you do not have a ventilation system you need to watch out for those warm sunny days. for a little more money you can install a thermostat, shutter fans on one end and louvers with servo motors on the other. Keep in mind the top 25% or so of the house will be a dead zone as that air heats up to extremes. Little ventilation fans inside the house work well too.. a house made of 1″ schedule 40 pvc sheathed with 2×4″ turkey wire works well. then all you need is some greenhouse plastic and possibly some rope to keep it from being caught by the wind. Solid corrugated panels would be more expensive but better.

    Liked by 1 person

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