It was Brooks who added limes and then tropical fruits.
“Then I lost some of those commodities and added papayas,” he said. “It’s just constant change. You just have to accept it.”
Papayas are among the biggest of the changes at Brooks Tropicals. The company began sourcing papayas — grown on fewer than 30 acres — from Belize in 1993.
Over several years, Brooks Tropicals doubled its papaya volume every 15 or 16 months, Brooks said. The Brooks Tropicals papaya farmland now stands at 1,600 acres.
Brooks — now in his early 60s — has no plans to retire, which is good news for those just entering the fresh produce industry.
“Nothing stimulates me more than being around young people who say: ‘I want to learn what you know,’” Brooks said.