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Inspired by Dad, Farmer Gives Grievers a Seat at the 'Lost Table'


A few years after Portland urban farmer Stacey Givens bought the Sideyard Farm, her father, John, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died shortly after. Though she was the youngest of seven kids, she and her dad were close, and he loved visiting her at the farm in Oregon and tinkering with her farm trucks.

Finding it difficult to return to hospitals for grief support, she began to invite friends who had lost someone out to her farm “to cry with her,” and they invited their friends, and the dinners grew.

‘We’re Laughing, We’re Crying’

Finally, a couple of years later, she decided to name their gatherings “The Lost Table.” She told us, “We all felt kind of lost, we’re laughing, we’re crying, we’re sharing pictures and are able to connect to one another and not feel lonely in our grief.”

Givens says the monthly grief gatherings of 25 people fill up quickly. People come and share some of their loved ones' special recipes, like a dad’s barbecued ribs or a mom’s lasagna. Strangers exchange contact information, become friends, and arrange walks and hikes together.

“It’s really peaceful at the farm. It's very quiet out here. There’s something about breaking bread with somebody else that makes you feel comforted. It’s this sense of nostalgia and comfort while they are sharing their stories.”

the side yard farm and kitchen

Family’s Open Door Inspired Dinners

Givens was raised in a big family with an open door, and without realizing it, she said she was recreating the openness she grew up with, “When I created the farm, I didn’t really think it out and plan it; I just created it,” Givens explained.

Givens says she’s grateful her father got to see the first couple of years of the farm. Though cut short, their time together helped inspire the welcoming environment of the monthly dinners. 

“He flew up here all the time. He was just so proud of me. We talked every day. Never a day went by that I didn’t talk to my dad. He’d lend a hand on the farm and would make a bunch of fried chicken for my friends. He loved it up here.”

The Sideyard Farm website has more information about the Sideyard Farm and Lost Table events. The Grief House now coordinates grief dinners. You can make reservations online.