One of the long-standing, rich, family traditions in Lawrence includes a visit to Schaake’s Pumpkin Patch on a beautiful autumn day. Larry was raised on this operation and took over the farming responsibilities at the young age of sixteen after his father passed away. This farm was built on integrity, work ethic and family values. These are principles that Larry and Janet feel were important to pass down to their children and now their grandchildren. For the past 40 years, Larry and Janet Schaake’s family farm has hosted thousands of urban visitors including school children and families from the northeast Kansas area and surrounding states.
In 1975, Scott and Sheila as a 4-H horticulture project, started this historic patch. On the weekends, the young Schaake kids, Scott (13), Sheila (10) and Shari (7) would load the pumpkins and spend the day by themselves selling their 4-H projects out of the back of the farm truck off highway 10. Each year more varieties were added to the patch and the demand from the public to purchase a unique fruit also began to increase. As a result, the u-pick pumpkin patch was born.
Since the beginning, our goal was to provide an affordable family entertainment and help educate the public about agriculture. Hundreds of hours of manual labor from planting to hoeing weeds is performed by the Schaake family and their grandchildren. Even today, each seed is planted by hand and more than one hundred varieties are strategically placed around the patch to enhance the great pumpkin hunt. What makes this patch unique is the opportunity to witness a traditional family farm where the focus is on your families’ entertainment and education. This patch has had no admission cost and a number of free activities and photo opportunities.
Larry and Janet Schaake have been married for 53 years and have devoted their entire life to this family operation. Along with the 30 acres of pumpkins, ornamental gourds and Indian corn, this farm also raises corn and soy beans in the fertile soils of the Kaw Valley bottoms. The Schaake's have always had a passion for livestock and own a cow/calf operation as well. Their four children, spouses and ten grandchildren all participate in some aspect of the pumpkin patch.
Scott is the oldest sibling and the only son. He and his wife Kandi live in Westmoreland, Kansas. Scott is a professor at Kansas State University in Animal Science Department. Kandi teaches Kindergarten at Westmoreland Elementary. Their oldest son, Shane, manages a ranch in Wray CO and his wife, Melissa, is a graphic designer for Ranch House Designs Inc. Their youngest son, Shilo, attends Kansas State University.
Sheila is the oldest of three daughters. She lives within two miles of the pumpkin patch. She has four children: Colton, who lives in Garden City, Kansas, and works for Animal Health International. His wife, Tara, is finishing her final semester in veterinary medicine at OSU. Caden lives in Lawrence and is a salesman at Suther Feeds and helps his grandfather with the farm. Cambry is finishing her final year at Baker University School of nursing, and Cael is a freshman at Eudora High School.
Shari is a high school guidance counselor and coach. She lives within a mile of the pumpkin patch as well.
Sharla is the youngest daughter and is married to Rusty Dressler. Rusty is a heavy equipment operator at RD Johnson Excavation Company. They also live within a mile of the pumpkin patch. They have four children: Chase, Kalen, Kelby (twins) and Kynlee.