Remembering Her Father, Urban Farmer Hosts ‘Lost Table’

A few years after urban farmer Stacey Givens bought the Sideyard Farm, her father John was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 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.

John died soon after his diagnosis at age 64. Though his death came quickly after his diagnosis, he was in and out of the hospital several times before the end. He died 11 years ago.

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.

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.

Finally, after a year or two, she decided to name their gatherings “The Lost Table.” She told Solace Cremation, “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.”

The farm’s setting not only provides an environment that is welcoming to people who are grieving but serves as a hub for all kinds of folks and activities. “We host so many different things here: brunches, dinners, bike-in movie nights, drag shows, speed dating, CSA pickups, chefs come here to pick up orders … we’re just like this big community hub. People feel safe here. They feel comfortable being themselves, all identities, queer, BIPOC, old, young. It is just such a welcoming place.”

Givens says now there are 500 people on her mailing list and the monthly grief gatherings of 25 fill up quickly. People come and share some of their loved one’s special recipes like a dad’s barbecued ribs or a mom’s lasagna. Strangers exchange contact information and 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.”

Givens says she’s grateful her father got to see the first three years of the farm. Their time together, though cut short, 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 up here.”

Find more information about the Sideyard Farm and the Lost Table events on the Sideyard Farm website.

Solace Cremation offers online arrangements for direct cremation services with one flat price and 24/7 customer service. Solace proudly serves Portland and Southern California. Learn more.

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