Help Keep Master Gardener Magazine Alive

MGMag Remember how much we like science-based gardening information?  Not to mention Master Gardener programs?  Well, Master Gardener Magazine is the publication that puts all that together and it may be shut down due to budget cutbacks (by the Washington State government, which pays for it).  So editor Linda Chalker-Scott asks GardenRant readers to help…somehow.

  • You could show your support by joining the "Friends of Master Gardener Magazine" Facebook group, and then in a comment, give us your most savvy advice about how to USE the group help save the mag.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the publication, you could go to their website and if you find the information useful, send Linda an email saying so!  (
  • And if you have any ideas about finding advertisers, also let Linda know in an email.  So far, most of the advertisers are local to Yakima, but the mag has content that's helpful beyond Western Washington.  I've found the articles helpful to gardening here in Maryland, so it's definitely not just regional.


  1. Thanks, Susan, for your and your readers’ support. The magazine has been a godsend for me, as it allows me to write science for a popular audience and generates income for my program. (Like most other faculty, I can’t justify doing much for “free” anymore.)

  2. This publication has sure improved since the first year when is was an ad for WA apples with a few articles. Thanks for giving me a second look. I’d be willing to subscribe to this, especially if it supports The WA Master Gardeners program. The science of gardening is so helpful.

    Linda, Put a bug in Cisco’s ear. Maybe he can mention this in the PI before it closes shop.
    And how about soliciting landscapers and garden consultants for ad space.
    Good luck to you and your MGs.

  3. There was an article in my local paper today about the whole WSU Extension service may be out of WSU’s budget. That would be very sad, because as the article pointed out, the extension service offers alot of help to local orchardists along with the general public. It’s sad when a state’s budget has to so drastically cut educational functions. Very sad.

  4. Thanks, Olie, that’s a good idea to talk to Ciscoe. He might be able to do something on his radio program as well.

    I’m glad you’re willing to give the magazine a second chance. I hope you let Jim Black (the publisher) know why.

  5. If overhead costs are too high, Master Gardener magazine should consider transitioning to an online magazine and maybe only print a couple times a year.

    It doesn’t cost a lot to build a website, or update and existing one, plus you can reach a far broader niche audience.

    With a little search engine optimization and a lot of great content, they could find themselves on the Front Page of Google searches in no time. And if Linda wants to learn more, I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned about this stuff. …

  6. Thanks, Nikki, good idea! How would you suggest creating income in this model? I don’t think the organization (as a state entity) can have advertising on the web site. Do we charge for online access? Or what?

  7. A lot of us small publishers are in the same boat, and never had state budget backing. Here in the “other” Washington — DC that is — we are struggling to find advertising as well. If it weren’t for our loyal subscribers, we would not exist at all. But if that subscriber base does not continue to grow, we will no longer exist soon as well. Between soaring printing, paper, and postage costs, we are being squeezed from all angles.
    I’ve considered online-only. Like Linda though, I just do not see a vuable revenue stream — as folks seem unwilling to pay for access to online information and online advertising is even more anemic than print is these days.

  8. The magazine is already online along with the enclosed advertising. Maybe the ad income would cover the costs of online only.

    A blog format would draw more readers.

  9. It preached too much about home owners shouldn’t plant apple trees in their backyard because insects are taking over.

  10. One quick question, well maybe two questions and one comment. How many new subscribers would it take to save Master Gardener Magazine? I would definately become one of those new subscribers. Is there a chance it can be saved?

  11. To be fair, that was one article in one issue. And apple maggot is a serious problem for apple growers in Washington state, so the caution was useful for urban dwellers who might not be aware of the “big picture.” But as you note, there was a negative reaction to this article from some people.

    Please take another look at more recent issues of the magazine. I’ve had such good feedback from people who read it regularly, and many of them are now sending gift subscriptions to friends.

  12. That’s a great question (and only being a writer/science editor I don’t have a great answer). I will email the publisher and ask. And yes, I think it can survive, especially if there is an uptick in subscriptions or advertisers. Nikki has graciously offered to help the website increase its visibility (apparently search engines can’t see the text of the magazine, and that hurts). So please do subscribe, and I’ll find out what our goal is for numbers. Thanks for your support!

  13. Although I thought it was an excellent magazine and was glad to have gotten the first year’s issues, the material in it was very specific to the West coast (specifically the Washington/Oregon area).
    Great because it’s from an extension service, but for me, in Maine, not very applicable.

    The other complaint I had was that the online subscription form was not secure (and still isn’t, according to my browser). There is no way I’m giving a credit card # on an insecure connection, and paper checks are so last century!

  14. Firefly, when you click on “subscribe” you’ll get an https://…website – the “s” indicates it’s secure. Believe me, they’ve checked this to make sure there’s no problem.

    I agree that much of the information is regional (mine is not so much); what we hope to do, if the magazine succeeds, is to create some other regional ones using local garden writers. But unless the original version survives, that won’t happen.

  15. Here’s the information I promised to find. Right now, the magazine has just over 4,000 paid subscriptions (there are several hundred if not thousands unpaid that are sent as courtesies to county programs in and out of state). While there’s no magic number, to get a decent market share (something advertisers look at) they need to be around 20,000. That’s not going to happen right away, but I believe if we can up the subscriptions significantly in the next month it would show good potential.

    So if you’ve been meaning to subscribe and just haven’t, please do! If you need a nice gift for a gardener, here it is!

  16. Wow, was I wrong. We give away THOUSANDS of magazines (I think they print 20,000 per issue). Only a quarter of those are paid for. And the paid subscriptions are nearly the same as they were a year ago. Can we turn this around?

  17. Wow…I’m a MG and have never heard of the magazine! Would love to help save it… but not really interested in subscribing until it sounds like it’s on firmer ground. Our county MG program is very close to being shut down due to budget constraints and political posturing. Really sad that politicials don’t see the value of a fact-based volunteer program that helps the public. Go figure.

  18. Hmm, I’m a MG too, in Northern California, and I’ve never heard of it either. Sounds like more targeted outreach is in order. That would take money but might pay off in subscriptions.

  19. I know that the publisher will be at the International MG conference – if you are going (or know someone who is), talk to him! His name is Jim Black. We have also contacted all the state MG coordinators (we did this 2 years ago), offering them a free issue. We’ve tried to get the word out – the interesting question is why it somehow gets derailed. Hence the web appeal.

  20. In fact, now Karen has given me a great idea. If you are a Master Gardener, ask your county coordinator to request a county subscription. That way your extension office will have this resource for people to look at.

    We have a limited ability (ok, non-existent ability) to reach county ccordinators in other states. For instance, I can reach our county staff, but I have no way of reaching county coordinators elsewhere. All we have is a state coordinator distribution list. We can send messages to them, but there’s no way to guarantee they are passed along to the counties.

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