Just over a decade ago, Jason Laubacher was a pre-teen with a dream.
He asked his dad, Ron, if he could grow some pumpkins on the family farm north of Oak Harbor to help build a college fund. They planted a field and set up signs the following October for Jason’s Pumpkin Patch, 12629 W. Salem-Carroll Rd.
“Basically it was a wagon in my garage,” said Jason, now 21.
Not anymore. Jason’s Pumpkin Patch blossomed into a full-blown business, complete with new buildings, harvest hayrides, corn mazes and lots of goodies.
This fall, Jason stepped back onto the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus to begin his senior year, knowing all those college years were covered by profits from his own business. His major is agricultural engineering.
As he looks back, the 2009 Oak Harbor High School graduate views the venture as a character builder as well as way to make money.
He took responsibility for the annual project, seeing it through planting season to the October blitz leading up to Halloween.
And it allowed him precious time well spent with his father and grandfather, Carol Laubacher, who passed earlier this year. Well, really, all his family. The success of the pumpkin patch relies on the dutiful help of those surrounding him – from his siblings and his girlfriend to the kids his mom, Sandy, babysits. “Some of those kids my mom babysat are older now and they come back to help me once in a while,” Jason said.
And as he has grown, Jason’s Pumpkin Patch has evolved.
The business offers more than 100 types of pumpkins and gourds. This year, they introduced some specialty pumpkins like “knuckleheads” which have tiny wart looking bumps plastered across the skin. He’s also designated a goodies section for the cupcakes and cookies baked by his girlfriend, Kayla, a Port Clinton resident also in her senior year at OSU.
Each year they try to add something new.
With woodworking skills he learned at the knee of his grandfather, Jason has helped build many of the on-site decorations, including this year’s mum tree displayed at the entrance of the pumpkin patch.
The family gets a lot of its Halloween and fall ideas from the Internet. And, of course, he said, his parents like to visit Amish country, which breeds a wealth of ideas for the industrious lot.
The mums sold at the Pumpkin Patch are shipped in from Amish country, Jason added. A family friend lends her painting skills to much of the decorations throughout the site.
Jason oversaw the bulk of the planting and maintenance when he was home from college in spring and summer. But when he returned for the fall semester, his mom began shouldering the weekday business. He then returns home for the weekend rushes.
He and his family are readying for the final weekend on Saturday and Sunday, the big push prior to Halloween.
Jason’s Pumpkin Patch is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from mid-September until Oct. 31.
The curious can check out what Jason’s Pumpkin Patch has to offer via Facebook or the website jasonspumpkinpatch.com.