Dennis Epperly plants acres of flowers at his Barry County farm and invites the public to visit. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

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This story is published in partnership with Ozarks Alive, a cultural preservation project led by Kaitlyn McConnell.

RURAL BARRY COUNTY - The old adage that “the best things in life are free” comes true a few miles south of Cassville, where acres of flowers filled with thousands of blooms draw visitors to experience beauty — both that of what they see and the kindness of who makes it possible. 

That person, in this case, is Dennis Epperly.

“This is Pa’s Posey Patch,” says Epperly, standing near the flower-filled acres on a golden afternoon, “and I’m Pa. My son always called me Pa from when he was little, and his kids call me Pa.”

Thousands more now know him by the same name, as they flock to the colorful 15-acre patch he plants near his home for folks to enjoy — for free. And not only can they see the flowers: They can also pick a few to take home with them — also for free. 

“Having people come out here,” says Epperly, 71, explaining why he does what he does. “We’re an old couple and we only have one child, and he lives in Kansas City. So the only way I can get company is to grow flowers.”

Epperly says those words with a smile, as well as the next: “You can tell I’m kind of full of it.”

“I just love what I do and I kind of like people. It gives me an audience for all my old jokes that my wife’s already heard and tired of.” 

Why visit Pa's Posey Patch?

Shasta Daisies, Sweet William, Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Bachelor Buttons, Indian Blanket are some of the flowers currently in bloom. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

The fields are currently filled with a sea of blue, yellow, white and red blossoms. That will change with the seasons, as the farm is open for nine months and will run until late in the year.

“I start planting in the fall — a lot of my things are winter annuals,” says Epperly, who notes that the poppies, wildflowers and others are planted in October. “That’s the only way you can get flowers to bloom right now is if they’re planted last fall. And then I've already started planting sunflowers and all that for this year.” 

Once folks arrive — other than professional photographers who charge their clients, from whom he requests $25 — all he suggests is that people make a donation. There’s a small donation box on a pole in the grassy field where people can park, or they can also use other means like PayPal or Venmo to help with the patch’s cost, which is not insignificant. 

The Patch is a popular spot for photographers.

“I invest $20,000 a year in this,” says Epperly. “And if I get half of it back, I’m very happy.

“All I ask for is a donation but I don't require it — if they don't have the funds, I want them to enjoy what I've been given down here. If they don't have money, that's fine. I still want them to be able to pick flowers and take pictures. 

“I don't do this to make money. If I’d wanted to be rich, I’d have married a richer woman.” 

From a quarter-acre to 15

2022 is the second year Epperly has planted poppies. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

The idea for the patch started small. Epperly, a retired vocational agriculture teacher with 30 years of experience, has had a lifetime of learning in the rural Ozarks. He grew up in Barry County, attended a one-room school for all eight grades, and learned about growing early.

“I begged some bean seeds off my mother and started my garden,” he says, of one of his first pursuits as a child.

While has been growing flowers for around four decades, it was about four years ago when he began cultivating the idea of the patch for the public. At first, he planted less than an acre, which lasted around six weeks. But once the word got out, things started to grow quickly.

“Then it just ballooned. They came last year — I had over 2,500 people here,” says Epperly. “I just kept enlarging it. I went from a quarter-acre, which is just a good garden size, and now I have 15 acres of flowers and pumpkins. I also grow pumpkins and I have for 40 years.”

In late May, strawberry-red poppies fill several plots on the land, their blooming faces shining up at the sun. Others include Shasta Daisies, Sweet William, Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Bachelor Buttons, Indian Blanket, and Larkspur, the latter of which is just starting. Earlier this year, yellow daffodils covered the fields, and things will wrap up in fall with sunflowers and those pumpkins — which he also often gives away. 

Reservations aren’t needed to visit the farm, but Epperly does ask that visitors send a message to the patch’s Facebook page so he knows they’re coming. It’s open from around 8 a.m. to dark Monday through Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to dark on Sunday.

“On Sundays, I do like to go to church so the good Lord will give me some rain,” he says.

Want to visit?

Click here to connect with Pa’s Posey Patch on Facebook. Please send a message to the page before you visit. Epperly has also published a book about his experience with growing flowers at the farm (as well as others about his childhood and attending a one-room school), which may be purchased from him or at the Barry County Museum in Cassville.

Kaitlyn McConnell

Kaitlyn McConnell is the founder of Ozarks Alive, a cultural preservation project through which she has documented the region's people, places and defining features since 2015. Contact her at: More by Kaitlyn McConnell