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Waste Not Want Not

A fruitful endeavor needs assistance.

July 14, 2009
Debra Lordan · Editor/General Manager
You may remember me referring to my black thumb and my little greenhouse, aka my plant mortuary. On the other side of the spectrum, we have green-thumbed gardeners who can grow a veritable Garden of Eaten—those with orchards of oranges, acres of avocados, a bounty of bananas… well, you get it. Fruit trees often produce an abundance of food, and it may be difficult for those with fruit and nut trees to keep up with harvesting, which takes time and labor. The fruit might end up going to waste on the ground or end up in the trash.

A group called Waste Not Want Not, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization comprised of community volunteer harvesters, have collected and distributed six tons of Maui-grown fruit, nuts and veggies since they began last December. Instead of becoming mulch or fruit fly food, WNWN collects edible fruit and produce from businesses and residents, which is then donated to the Maui Food Bank (MFB). MFB distributes the fresh food to Hale Makua and about 75 other organizations that provide services for keiki, the elderly and the homeless.

After you schedule an appointment with Waste Not Want Not, part of their crew of 35 volunteer harvesters come to your property to harvest your surplus. WNWN doesn’t charge for collection or delivery, and in exchange for their work, volunteers may receive a bit of the harvest.

But nonprofits can’t run on fruit alone. It takes money to run any organization. WNWN needs money for gas, administration fees, and software for taxes, scheduling and a donor database. They need equipment such as orchard ladders as well.

WNWN is currently using personal trucks, borrowed ladders and other equipment with the hope they can expand the operation and increase their harvesting ability to meet an increasing need.

The organization also requires money to hire a mechanic to either fix the old van donated by the MFB, or to buy another vehicle. Because the van is broken, they use a pickup truck, which limits what the group can harvest. They take the pickup out twice a week, but one pickup of food is gone after four or five deliveries to MFB recipient agencies. They could easily go out every day—there is that much food available—but they don’t have the financial support.

As we all know, times are hard and receiving this fresh produce means a lot to those in need—now more than ever. WNWN Co-founder and Director James Mylenek Sr. told me about a senior citizen who tearfully accepted a few tangerines, fresh fruit that she hadn’t been able to afford to buy for four years.

Don’t let these treasures go to waste.

To learn more about Waste Not, Want Not, to become a volunteer, donate fruit or make a contribution to support the program, visit or call 874-8038.

To find an organization near you that receives WNWN fruit through the Maui Food Bank, call 244-9500.

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