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  • Author or Editor: Karl Foord x
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A survey of gardeners in Minnesota found they get their information from friends and garden centers. Older gardeners were less likely to use the Internet. The highest interest was indicated for annuals, perennials, and containers, followed by trees and shrubs. Most participants had not attended a gardening class in the past year and indicated they learn best from talking with friends. Publications are of interest to gardeners, and they highly value color photos and illustrations. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum were perceived as significantly more credible and trustworthy than garden centers, and participants felt these institutions should provide educational programs, even if survey respondents were not participating in these programs. About half the participants were not able to comment on the level of bias of the university and arboretum, and other traits (credible, trustworthy, expert, and knowledgeable) were unknown to one-third to one-half of the participants. Participants knew more about these traits for garden centers and home stores. Participants in this survey indicated they look for convenient sources of gardening information and, although many felt the land-grant university and arboretum were highly credible and knowledgeable, they were still more likely to use other sources for their gardening information. This poses a challenge to universities and arboreta to use new ways to reach gardeners.

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An online survey of readers of the University of Minnesota Extension's electronic Yard & Garden Newsletter (Y&G News) revealed significant differences between respondents on the basis of current employment and Master Gardener affiliation. Fifty-three percent of the respondents were general public (GP); 31% were Master Gardener trained (MGT), followed by full-time horticultural employees (FTE) and part-time horticultural employees (PTE) , each of whom made up to 8% of the 500 readers who responded to the survey. Overall, respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with the newsletter (4.8 out of 5.0), and 81% indicated that the newsletter had provided them with “specific information that they found extremely valuable” in the past 2 years. PTE and MGT respondents rated the newsletter as significantly more useful than did the GP. FTE placed greatest value on timely information related to pest control. GP subscribers indicated that annuals and perennials were the horticultural topics they were most interested in for future issues. All subscribers highly value the newsletter for its usefulness and timeliness and indicated that the newsletter improved their ability to make horticultural decisions. Ninety-nine percent would recommend the newsletter to a friend. The mission of the Y&G News and content changes based on survey responses and available resources are discussed.

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