Crag House Farm, home of Caring For Life, sounded so intriguing when described by our friend Jill, I simply had to pay a visit.
It’s off Otley Old Road at Cookridge, not far from Leeds/Bradford Airport. We approached via a long farm road and found ourselves in a roomy car park, surprisingly busy, parked and then made our way past a huge greenhouse (it’s a garden centre too) towards the farmhouse itself, and the Granary Restaurant.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Caring For Life is a Christian charity which helps homeless or vulnerable people by providing accommodation, ongoing support, love and friendship, and, as Caring for Life itself describes, “when necessary, providing that care ‘for life’! Such care enables people to develop dignity and self-respect. Our motto is simple, ‘Sharing the Love of Jesus'”.
It all began in the late 1980s, when a Baptist minister and his wife, Peter and Judith Parkinson, basically opened their home, their land and their barn to welcome people who were alone, needed supported work, or just an escape from the city.
Crag House Farm has been Caring For Life’s home for the last 28 years, used to host its 17 therapeutic daytime projects. The charity offers homes as well as support in the community. The 125-acre farm has Longhorn cattle, Lleyn sheep, horses and poultry.
In 2008, the original Granary Café opened, and then the 17th century barn next to it was restored and transformed into the splendid Granary Restaurant, which is staffed by Caring for Life supporters and those it supports.
It’s lovely, serving home-made meals (I was feeling slightly fragile and had steak pie and chips, which did the job) and a rather fabulous range of cakes and bakes, including the wonderfully named Banoffingtons – dense slabs of cake that taste heavenly, although I’m not quite sure what’s in them.
There’s a shop too, selling farm produce and meet, plus kitchenalia, toys, gifts and more. It’s certainly not overtly Christian, other than the fact that it’s tangibly a serene and supported environment.
The main delight for me, however, was the garden, just behind the barns. It’s beautiful, and there are a couple of little writing huts (well, that’s what I’d use them for) – it’s all so picturesque, restful and, yes, therapeutic.
I will definitely be going back because it’s a lovely place, ideal for meeting up with friends. In fact, I might go back again today.
Crag House Farm is holding an open day on Saturday, June 11, 12-5pm, £5 entry adults, £3 under 17s and over 60s, with lamb racing, horse and cart rides. pets corner, steel bands and loads more. All funds raised go to Caring for Life. See http://www.caringforlife.co.uk/ and http://craghousefarm.com/