26 June 2013

Liverpool is best known as a port city. Its immense warehouses and processing plants were at the centre of the international food trade long before anyone had heard about globalisation. What is less well known is that alongside its role in the global food economy, Liverpool also had a thriving local food culture. 

Since early 2012 the Memories of Mr Seel’s Garden project has been uncovering this hidden side of the city and sharing stories of local orchards, urban milk production and backyard veg. It was inspired by a sign on the side of the Liverpool One Tesco, which shows that the same piece of land used to be a growing space in the late 1700s. We wondered what other kinds of local food spaces might be secreted throughout the city and ended up finding hundreds of locations which you can explore with our interactive map. 

Working with designers at the Edinburgh College of Art we have also created an iPhone app which hacks the barcodes on food packaging, known as Universal Product Codes, and turns them into Local Memory Codes. When you scan these codes with the Mr Seel app, instead of receiving pricing and product information, you are sent stories about our hidden heritage of local food. The app itself is also ‘local’ which means you have to be in Liverpool to use it, and you’ll get different stories depending on where you are in the city. We are hoping that by knowing more about our past, we might be able to more richly imagine the future of local food in our city.  

To find out more about the project please visit the Mr Seel’s Garden website and the app can be downloaded from the iTunes app store. To get in touch, email mrseelsgarden@gmail.com

Turning FACT Inside Out is open until 15 September, and to find out more information about TransEurope Slow and the other works in the exhibition, please visit the exhibition project page.