Dr. Richard Campbell Leaves Fairchild, Takes New Post
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's longtime tropical fruit curator, horticulture director and colorful face of the annual International Mango Festival, Dr. Richard Campbell, is leaving after 20 years to take a position at Ciruli Brothers, a third-generation, family-owned grower-shipper of fruits and vegetables. Campbell had worked over the years with Ciruli Brothers in a consulting capacity, notably on the Champagne Mango and will now act as Chief Science Officer with additional responsibilities in global procurement. Also a contributor to edible South Florida, Campbell says he's looking forward to the new challenge but will also continue maintaining his own family farm in South Florida, where he lives with his wife and three sons.
In the course of his career at Fairchild, Campbell adroitly balanced horticultural research, including characterization of tropical fruit cultivars, including mango, jackfruit, mamey sapote, sapodilla and canistel, with a showman's gift for educating the public about tropical fruit. As organizer of the annual International Mango Festival each summer, Campbell not only assembled hundreds of mangos from their top collection, he also talked up each variety at the festival's Mango Auction, where bids for a plate of a few choice mangos could reach upwards of $100. Fans turned out to hear his often outlandish – but always entertaining – tales of mangos "so good he'd fight his mama for them." Campbell and Dr. Noris Ledesma, his colleague in the tropical fruit program, also brought attention to their adventures in the 2012 documentary The Fruit Hunters.
Campbell's new position combines his horticultural skills with responsibilities in growing the company. Fans, take heart – he will continue writing his Sustainable Living columns for edible South Florida, inspired by his family, his travels and, occasionally, a passing meteor.