Connected Communities

Mapping Local Food

Chris Speed and Alex Hale will be at this year’s Royal Geographical Society conference in London reflecting on their experiences of using maps in the Memories of Mr Seel’s Garden project. The blurb from their talk is just below:


Co-producing a map of Liverpool’s local food

On the side of the Tescos Superstore on the edge of Liverpool’s new oopen air shopping centre is a ceramic map that tells you that this area was once ‘Mr Seel’s Garden’. The historic map draws the contemporary viewer into this past claiming: “you are standing on what was the garden, represented by an asterisk”. The uncanny juxtaposition of modern and historic food systems begins to produce nostalgia for an imaginary past time when people knew who grew their food and where it was grown. Before this longing for a time you have never experienced can fully take hold, however, the notice lets you know that “Thomas Seel was an eighteenth century merchant. He made money out of the dreadful slave trade, but used some of it to pay for Liverpool’s first infirmary”.

This brief but vivid experience draws together multiple elements – food, maps, history, time, power, cruelty, memory, intertwined globals and locals – to paint a complex picture of the positive and negative effects of varying connectivities. As part of the AHRC Connected Communities ‘Mr Seel’s Garden’ project the authors worked with local residents to review paper, historic maps and Ordnance Survey maps to locate places of food. The teams trawled across 1st, 2nd and later OS editions and came up with hundreds of locations from glasshouses, to dairies and breweries. Workshops, site visits, oral history, archive research and fieldwork offered a platform to co-produce analogue postcards from the future and Google maps of the past.

You can find out more about the session here. We wish them luck!