Wiki to Help Establish Food-systems Lingo

Hobby farmers can contribute to the evolution of the local-food movement by adding word definitions, photos and more to the Food System Wiki.

by Dani Yokhna
Farmers'-market stand with baskets of garlic, tomatoes, potaotes, peas, peppers and more
Photo by Stephanie Staton
Terms like “farmers market,” “sustainable agriculture,” “specialty crops” and “nutrition” are defined in the Food Systems Wiki.

The local-food movement is growing dramatically, with an emerging new lingo and jargon attached. To keep both farmers and foodies in the know about the verbiage surrounding food systems, the Food System Wiki was developed as a collaboration between the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

A wiki is a website that allows anyone to add, delete or revise content via the Internet. The developers of the Food System Wiki, with its user-friendly design, intended it to serve as an evolving repository of the food-system lexicon—a place where “agripedians” can contribute new words and definitions, show how the terms are used, and fine-tune the definitions and usage of existing words.

The wiki began as a class project for the University of Wisconsin’s course “Urban and Regional Planning 711: Markets and Food Systems.” Taken from the definition provided in the wiki itself, a food system is “a dynamic structure consisting of the production, distribution, acquisition, consumption and disposal of food.” The terms compiled in the Food System Wiki are a collection of scientific, political and popular words, terms and acronyms related to food systems.

Several dozen users currently contribute to the Food Systems Wiki, but its developers are seeking greater participation from nutritionists, community-development professionals, county cooperative-extension agents, faculty, students, public officials, agency representatives, and of course, farmers and food entrepreneurs.

If you’re a hobby farmer interested in contributing to the wiki, participation is simple. Visit the Food System Wiki’s website, and click on the “request access” link in the upper-right corner of the page. Once registered, click the “Edit” tab (next to the “View” tab at the top of the page) and scroll to where you’d like to add or edit a term. To insert a new item, use the “Insert” drop-down list to insert a line between your new term and the term below it. To update an existing entry, use the editing tool to add links, photos or other media. Then save your work at the bottom of the page.

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