Thomas Henderson's field of dreams has nothing to do with baseball. When his gaze rests on the 246 acres of land in Cheatham County that served as home to Camp Dogwood for more than 50 years, he sees urban and suburban youth and adults of every race, faith and socioeconomic level working side by side harvesting crops, harmony and justice. To that end, Henderson is the director of the Dogwood Project, which operates under the aegis of the Bethlehem Centers, a Nashville-based nonprofit agency.
Camp Dogwood originated in the 1920s though a grant of land from a wealthy white philanthropist who sought to create a camp open to all races in Middle Tennessee. It did just that very successfully until the mid-'70s, when several factors led to its demise. The property sat virtually dormant until recently, when a new vision began to form: to garden a portion of that land for growing fresh, nutritious and culturally relevant foods for communities that have little or no access to conventional grocery stores. "Food security" is how Henderson defines it.
It's a big idea and will require significant funding. Restaurateur Martha Stamps, herself a passionate advocate of fresh, culturally relevant foods, heard Henderson speak on the subject at West End United Methodist Church, and she was so taken with his mission that she is presenting a Camp Dogwood Dinner at Martha's at the Plantation on Thursday, Nov. 18. On the menu are fried catfish, pulled pork, hot chicken, spicy kale, mashed turnips, roasted winter squash, biscuits, cornbread and sweet potato pie. The meal starts at 6:30 p.m., and the cost is $40 per person, with $15 going to Camp Dogwood. For reservations, call 353-2828; for more information on Camp Dogwood, contact Henderson at 329-3386.
Going to the dogs
What's in a name? Enough to make Sylvia Harrelson, the chef/co-owner of Cibo, tie hers to a fundraiser for the Nashville Humane Association. Prior to Tennessee Repertory Theatre's 7:30 performance of the play Sylviaabout a dog who talksHarrelson will set out a feast of appetizers and wines in her cafe starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18. For $30, attendees will also get free parking in the Central Parking lot at Seventh Avenue North and Church Street, and a ticket to the show. Reserve your spot by calling 726-2426.