Born in 1871 in Chihuahua, Mexico, and orphaned at the age of 2, Fabian Garcia would eventually be known as "the father of the New Mexican food industry." After his parents died, Garcia's grandmother brought him to New Mexico, where she worked as a domestic for the Casads family. The Casads treated Garcia like a son and provided a private tutor for him. When he became of age they sent him to Las Cruces College [which shortly thereafter merged with New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (NMA&MA) and is now known as New Mexico State University (NMSU)] in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he studied agricultural sciences. Garcia became a member of the first graduating class in 1894. Although Garcia was an average student, he continued on to receive a graduate degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, as well as honorary degrees from his alma mater and the University of New Mexico.
In 1914, Garcia became the first director of NMA&MA's Agricultural Experiment Station. As a researcher and an administrator, he was the college's only faculty member of Mexican descent for many years.
Garcia's experimentation with the chile plant revolutionized Mexican-American cooking. He developed the first modern chile, which became the prototype for subsequent varieties and helped chile become New Mexico's third largest cash crop. His creation of a milder chile helped introduce southwestern-style food to the rest of United States. He also produced other major crops, including onions, cotton, and pecans, in Mesilla Valley, New Mexico.
Garcia died in 1948, 3 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He left his valuable estate to NMSU, in part to provide scholarships for poor Mexican-American youth. Garcia said, "I want to help poor boys, for I know their hardship."
1. " Fabian Garcia: Pioneer Horticulturist." Retrieved from the World Wide Web, New Mexico State University Archives Web site on 12 July 2004.
2. " Biography of Fabian Garcia." Retrieved from the World Wide Web, Just Garcia Hill Web site on 12 July 2004.