Ten acres. Maybe not much to work with, but for Javier Mancha it was the acreage he obtained and worked by hand when he returned from the Vietnam War in 1969. It was his start.

For the U.S. Army 1st Logistical Command veteran it was a cherished portion of God’s green Earth, and that sliver of land in Maverick County, Texas, on the Mexico border, was the beginning he needed to raise a family over the next four decades.

Mancha’s Rosita Valley farm is known for growing some of the hottest peppers and the sweetest melons. Mancha raised and sold enough produce from this fertile valley to put four daughters through college, and eventually obtained additional land to raise cattle.

“I have always loved to farm,” Mancha says. “I married my wife in 1967 and began my career as a farmer in 1970. Together, we have raised cantaloupe, watermelon, peppers, squash, hay grazer and alfalfa.

“When my father was 10 years old, he came to the U.S. (from Mexico), and he was soon responsible for helping his mother raise a family and provide for his siblings. In 1946, he opened a grocery store in Eagle Pass and worked as a butcher and baker.”

That work ethic is still ingrained in Mancha’s grandchildren, who work in the summer months selling their grandfather’s producer at roadside stands.

In 1983 Mancha’s original 10 acres turned into 40, and he grew to be respected for the same high quality and dependability as his crops.

“We struggled at times, but I learned not to fight nature but (to) work with it, and I tried to learn something new every day that would make it easier for the next generation,” Mancha says.

“It is an enormous sense of pride not only to farm, but also to know that it has provided for my family,” he says. “I could not have done it alone; I had good people support me and help me along the way.”