From Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes (which I’m about halfway through and which is excellent so far):

More than two hundred towns with populations over ten thousand built piggeries where raw garbage served as the feed, as what passed for waste experts at the time [late 1800s to mid-1900s] estimated that seventy-five pigs could dispose of a ton of garbage a day — and provide revenue and meat at the same time. … Worcester, Massachusetts … proudly kept two thousand garbage-swilling swine at its forty-acre piggery near the city limits.

You can read more about the Poor Farm, which eventually became the city piggery, on the City Clerk’s website:

Eventually, the Farm became a piggery. Tons of Worcester garbage were collected daily to feed the pigs, and proceeds from the sale of pork helped the City’s coffers. By 1932, the overwhelming stench of 8,000 pigs convinced everyone it was time to close the Farm.

It should be noted that one of the financial beneficiaries of the piggery was Hope Cemetery, which received part of its income from the sales of these pigs.


2 thoughts on “Piggeries

  1. Sprout says:

    I grew up separating the trash from the garbage for the pig farmer who would collect the garbage. There was the metal pail in the ground…

    • Nicole says:

      Also of interest —

      One of the more interesting aspects of the history of sanitation is “Colonel” George Waring’s White Wings of NYC. Waring insisted on strict sorting of waste — really amazing stuff.

      Our friends (I use that in the “I know we both admire them” sense of the word) at Pedal People in Northampton pick up compostable materials and even will pick up bags of clothing donations at no extra cost.

      Finally, something to meditate on:
      ‘Be patient, because it takes a while for habits to change, but often when users of a stressed space see someone taking real care of it, they actually begin to change their own behavior so that they become part of the improvement. It could even become an example of what sociologist Mitch Duneier, in his brilliant book “Sidewalk,” describes as “fixed windows” theory (in contrast to “broken windows” theory). A few people making small positive changes in an urban geography can encourage more people to create more small positive changes, which leads to a community altering its fortunes for the better, one step at a time.’

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