MK and Andrew Barnet: Top Young Ag Professionals

Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) collaborates with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.

Mary Kathryn Barnet (MK), 38, and Andrew Barnet, 36, are the owners of Open Book Farm in Middletown and are both named to Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. Neither MK nor Andrew grew up on a farm or with a background in agriculture, making their story unique. The couple first met in Palmetto, Georgia while working at Serenbe Farms where their passion for agriculture began as young adults. They expressed, “the learning curve was steep for city kids, but the work felt fulfilling and purposeful.” The couple shared excitement about the possibility of building a farm enterprise together. Their devotion to this mission led them to work on farms in separate states to advance their knowledge in the agricultural field.

MK and Andrew made their way to Myersville, Maryland in 2011 where they established Open Book Farm on rented land. In 2015 they planted roots in Middletown, purchasing a farm of their own. They have worked to transition the former dairy farm into a productive space for their diversified livestock and organic vegetable operation. Much of the cropland on the farm has been transitioned into rotationally grazed pasture for their beef, pork and poultry. In an effort to preserve natural resources, the Barnets utilize conservation practices including no-till to grow their produce. While they work together as one unit at Open Book Farm, MK is typically found managing the produce operation while Andrew focuses on the livestock, making them a dynamic team. They offer a CSA-style subscription through Open Book Farm. More information can be found on their website regarding how to purchase their local products.

MK currently serves on the Board of Future Harvest: A Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. She was also co-director for the Chesapeake Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training or CRAFT. This organization provides networking opportunities for apprentice farmers as well as in-season farm tours for those individuals to learn from expert farmers. What are they most proud of? “Ways we have worked to grow a new generation of innovative farmers,” the couple said. They achieve this by mentoring past employees who move on to manage other farms or start farms of their own. MK and Andrew each possess personality traits which complement the other, helping them operate a successful business. MK says, “I am generally curious about most things and people, which makes it easy for me to find commonalities and connect. Andrew excels as a careful thinker and sincere listener, which makes me a level-headed, clear boss” 

We are proud to honor MK and Andrew Barnet in Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like the Barnets at the helm. Be sure to congratulate MK and Andrew from Open Book Farm on this well-deserved accolade!