Joining AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps led Stephen Crimarco to shift his career focus from photography to farming.
The Kingston, Jamaica native, who migrated to Florida and studied photography at University of Central Florida and Indiana University Bloomington, didn’t know much about farming after earning his master’s degree. But after experiencing difficulty in finding a photography job after college, he decided to explore other options.
He joined AmeriCorps and was assigned to volunteer at Community Homestead Farm in Osceola, Wisconsin, where he learned how to milk cows and harvest food. The experience changed his life and sparked his interest in agriculture. He then joined the Peace Corps as an agro-forestry promoter in Swift River, a rural community in Portland, Jamaica, and farmed for 24 months using only hand tools and no machinery.
Now a student in UVM’s Farmer Training Program, Crimarco is learning to farm with mechanized equipment as well as how to plan and manage crops. He’s also gaining insight from more experienced farmers in Vermont.
“This is the first time where I am waking up in the morning without an alarm clock, and I’m eager to get up,” he says. “I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
While his experience in AmeriCorps whet his appetite for farming, joining the Peace Corps made Crimarco realize that he wanted a future in agriculture.
His assignment in the Peace Corps in Jamaica involved working with a small group of farmers and encouraging them to use more environmentally friendly farming practices.
“I spent over two years with this group, teaching them about composting and organic practices. By end of two years, the farmers gave up synthetic fertilizers,” he says. “The work paid off because I earned their trust. I purposely took things slowly and I created friendships. The most rewarding part of that experience was the relationships I made.”
At UVM, Crimarco is growing bok choy, flowers, potatoes and basil in his personal garden plot. “I’m not using any machinery, and we each created our own 4×25-foot garden double digging,” he says.
Crimarco hopes to work on a farm or for an agricultural company after completing the Farmer Training program in October. “I’d like to start my own farm at some point,” he says, adding, “Farming is all about getting what you give, and farming is what makes me happy.”
Learn about the UVM Farmer Training Program.