I like the answer about space availability, but I also think this:
This was just the third manned mission. The first would be dedicated to going there and getting back again - checking out all of the tools and systems. The second pretty much the same as the first, but implementing lessons learned from the first and doing more exploration. We don't know the crew details of the first two missions, but including Watney on the third - a botanist - seems to indicate that NASA was thinking of the future. I can't imagine that there would be a botanist on the first mission or even the second.
Watney would presumably spend his time doing ag experiments which would apply to future missions. I'm a bit fuzzy on what his exact mission assignment was though.
Obviously, NASA was thinking less about setting up an agrarian society and more about exploration at this stage. Otherwise, why wouldn't all missions land at the same spot?