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Rice plantation looking for ways to grow
EP LeConte Pic2
A reproduction of a slave cabin was built by the descendants of LeConte slaves. - photo by Photo by Emily Peterson
One of the largest rice plantations in coastal Georgia during the colonial era, LeConte-Woodmanston near Riceboro is fighting years of neglect to again become a destination.
The plantation was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by Louis LeConte. The plantation covered 3,300 acres, with 500-600 acres specifically for rice. The rest supported the 250 people who worked the plantation, more than 200 of whom were slaves.
Louis, who was the only LeConte who operated the plantation, was also a physician who began to develop a garden in 1813. He studied and grew a variety of trees, flowers and vegetables.
At the time of his death in 1838, the garden had reached its peak. After his death it was neglected and beyond repair. It was not until the 1970s that revamping attempts began through efforts of garden clubs and master gardeners.
Mary Beth Evans, president of master gardeners in Liberty County, serves as a liaison between master gardeners and LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation and is working to re-establish the connection between the two.
She said there are actually 10 distinct gardens that can be “adopted.” This can be done through monetary donations or people who would like to work in one of the gardens themselves.
“We want to make the gardens unique,” Evans said.
The gardens are next to each other and are bricked off into 10 squares.
Evans said they are also working on getting plaques to identify the different flowers and plants throughout the gardens.
While there is not a high volume of traffic, LeConte does get its share of visitors.
“We do get some visitors such as the garden club that has held meetings here,” Evans said. 
She said she and the board members would like to have classes come out on field trips, as well as host other organizations and tourists.
In order to help promote LeConte, a pavilion was constructed a few years ago using a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The pavilion was built so people would be able to congregate when they visit the plantation.
Another project that has not yet begun is a trailhead to provide room for people to bring horses, including the horse’s trailer, for riding. There will also be concrete picnic tables and places for people to tether their horses. While there is not yet a projected start date, the funding is available.
There are also plans to enclose a horse barn on the premises to serve as an office and classroom/community area.
“LeConte is supported by donations, so we’re always thankful to those who support us,” LeConte-Woodmanston site director John Ryon said.
For those who are interested in adopting a garden or making a donation, call Evans at 884-3243. For more information about LeConte Woodmanston in general, call Ryon at 884-6500. LeConte-Woodmanston is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and by special arrangement.
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