For 40 years, Vietnam veteran Javier Mancha has developed his Maverick County, Tex. land by hand, and relied on USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help incorporate conservation practices into his operation.
Mancha’s Rosita Valley farm is known locally for growing some of the hottest peppers and sweetest melons around, and over the years, has grown and sold enough produce to put four daughters through college.
In 1983, his original 10 acres grew into 40, and Mancha was able to expand his produce operation. But even now, Mancha does not apply herbicide to his crops, and when mechanical weed removal will not do the trick you will see him in the fields, eliminating unwanted plants with nothing more than a garden hoe and his own two hands.
In 1975, Mancha started working with NRCS—then called the Soil Conservation Service—to implement a variety of conservation practices on his Rosita Valley farm. To optimize water conservation, NRCS helped him level his land, improve his irrigation delivery system and create an irrigation water management plan.
About 25 years later, Mancha bought 500 acres of irrigated pastureland in El Indio that had been abandoned, abused and overgrown with mesquite and other undesirable brush. NRCS once again helped him come up with a conservation plan to address these issues.
Mancha begin rehabilitating the pastureland by removing undesirable trees and brush, and erecting cross-fencing to create multiple pastures, which improved his grazing management.
Besides keeping busy running his farm and ranch and making improvements to them, Mancha is also in his fourth year as a Maverick County Soil and Water Conservation District board member.
Seeds, soil and water were the foundation for Javier Mancha to begin his lifetime career of farming after returning from his service in the Vietnam War, and those are the same three things he strives to conserve today.
Mancha says that his farming philosophy can be summed up with the Spanish saying “Arrímate al arbol que da buena sombra”—“Get close to the tree that provides good shade.” In this case, Mancha means that NRCS is the tree, and the conservation it helps farmers implement is the shade.
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