Christopher Carter, aka Coconut Chris, loves plants. By the time he was 8, he had started growing tomatoes and sugarcane in his parent's yard in Southern California. He stopped going to school in 9th grade just so he could devote more time to growing food. When he was 22, he worked at an exotic plant nursery in Vista, California, where he learned about plant propagation, grafting and edible landscaping.
Chris moved to the Big Island in 2002 for the excellent soil, fresh water and great people. He lives in Kukuihaele, by the Waipio Valley, on a 600 acre ranch. Among the Big Island banana growing community, Chris is a superstar. He grows over 50 kinds of bananas, many of them rare Hawaiian varieties. He also grows an endless list of tropical fruits: Jackfruit, starfruit, passionfruit, cacao, breadfruit, pomelo, papayas, edible hibiscus, soursop, durian and, of course, coconut. Plus, there are always animals wandering around his farm; during this past visit I got to hang out with some very cute puppies.
Coconut Chris lives off-grid on his farm and follows a raw vegan diet (he did say, however, that if I were to bake him a vegan banana bread, he'd definitely eat it). His passion for plants and home-grown food is truly infectious, and I always come away from a trip to his farm feeling inspired. As Chris says, "...there's always something to plant. There's all these different things that I want to taste. While I'm alive on this planet, I'm going to be enjoying the menu."