The quest to further his coconut expertise has taken Ryan to some far-flung locales. Last year, he spent a month in Sri Lanka at the Coconut Research Institute learning everything from proper spacing of trees, to fertilization, watering, and pest control. In 2014, he spent three weeks in Fiji learning to make coconut oil. “I stayed with a family in a traditional grass hut with dirt floors,” he says. “Every day we went out into the forest to harvest fruits, and they taught me how to make oil in the traditional way.”
Producing and selling coconut oil is what sustains Coconut Information. Marketed as “Skin Serum,” Ryan’s oil is the result of a labor-intensive and intricate two-day process. Trimming coconut trees at several large properties on Maui provides Ryan with his raw materials. It takes thirty freshly fallen, fully mature brown coconuts to create one batch of handcrafted oil. “If I’m working my behind off, I can make two gallons a week,” Ryan says. Two-ounce vials of serum retail for $20 each, and are available for purchase on his website, or at various Maui retailers including Choice Health Bar in Lahaina, Farmers Market Maui in Honokōwai, and the Hana Farms stand.
In keeping with his mission to disseminate as much information about coconuts as possible, Ryan is currently making a video for his website on how to produce oil. People may think that’s a crazy idea, he says, but he learned how to make oil for free, and wants to share that knowledge. “I have more demand for my oil than I can meet, so I’d like to see others get involved in the craft.”
Rather than high profits, Ryan measures his success by the number of people who come up to him and say “thank you,” whether it’s after a workshop or one of his coconut giveaways. “Even if I connect with only one person at a time, it’s worth it.”
Ryan’s tree-trimming work often rewards him with more fruits than he needs for oil production and personal consumption. When this occurs, he loads them into his truck, parks by the entrance to Foodland in Lahaina, and puts up a sign offering them free for the taking. “I go surf for a while, and when I come back, they’re all gone. The nature of the coconut tree is to give with abundance, and I enjoy doing the same.”