Ken DeSutter’s 209-acre property near Manito isn’t the typical bed and breakfast.
Instead of a quaint lodging establishment with a morning meal for travelers, DeSutter’s property provides refuge and nourishment to a different variety of travelers: birds, bees and wildlife.
On Saturday, DeSutter’s property, located 3/4 of a mile south of the intersection of Spring Lake Road and Spring Garden Road in rural Manito will be on display to the public for the Creating a Bed & Breakfast for Birds, Bees & More Field Day.
The field day begins at 9 a.m. at DeSutter’s property and will be hosted in conjunction with Trees Forever, Farm Service Agency, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Trees Forever Field Coordinator and Program Manager Debbie Fluegel said the day is about teaching others how to create and maintain wildlife and pollinator habitats, similar to the ones Ken has created on his property.
“The purpose is to highlight what DeSutter has done on his property through various conservation practices,” Fluegel said. “He has put in a lot of pollinator habitats to attract pollinators, as well as he has put in a lot of grassland areas to attract upland game birds — quail and pheasants.”
DeSutter has planted more than 12,000 trees and shrubs on his property and has created 19 acres of pollinator habitats. Pollinator habitats on DeSutter’s property, according to Fluegel are areas of wildflowers such as Partridge Pea and Purple Coneflower.
“The goal is to have something blooming all throughout the year to provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths and other pollinators,” Fluegel said.
The conservation practices DeSutter has implemented on his land not only provide benefits for wildlife and insects, they also serve countless other environmental benefits, according to Fluegel.
“The native prairie plants and grasses act like a sponge. They absorb rainwater, so it’s better than the rainwater running off the ground. It helps improve our storm water management for our communities. It helps improve our water quality in our streams and rivers,” Fluegel said.
DeSutter is one of nearly 220 participants of the 2016 Illinois Buffer Partnership — a grant through Trees Forever that he has used to help with maintenance and invasive species control. He also enrolled his property in the Conservation Reserve Program through the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
The Illinois Buffer Partnership is celebrating its 15th anniversary and the tour of DeSutter’s property is one of several events being held throughout the state.
The field day will begin with brief introductions of resource professionals, who will be on hand to teach about conservation practices. Following the introductions, a hayrack ride will transport visitors around the property to eight different stops to see different conservation practices.
“They will see some of the practices DeSutter has put in to see what has worked and what hasn’t,” Fluegel said. “This is for anyone interested in conservation and the practices to promote wildlife and different habitats.”
A light lunch will be served and anyone planning to attend can register, at www.treesforever.org or by calling 1-800-369-1269.
“Even if you don’t have a lot of land or acreage, just by planting some native plants in your own yard can help create pollinator habitats. It is for everyone,” Fluegel said.