Kathryn Clarke Albright, chair of the Foundation Program and associate professor of architecture in Virginia Tech's School of Architecture + Design, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and founder of Blacksburg's Friends of the Farmers Market, will be celebrating with town leaders, downtown merchants, and patrons of the Blacksburg Farmers Market at the Grand Opening of Market Square Park.

The celebration, planned for Saturday, April 10 will be held at Market Square Park and its timber-frame structures that are the new home to the Farmers Market at the corner of Draper Road and Roanoke Street.

Albright initiated and led the effort for the design of the Market Square Park site plan, and collaborated with Friends of the Farmers Market committee members and Blue Ridge Timberwrights on the design-build structures.

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Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam will begin the festivities at 10 a.m. and Albright will say a few words, along with Mike Soriano, of Downtown Blacksburg Inc.; and Gwynn Hamilton, a Blacksburg Farmers Market vendor. The event includes music by Crossties and activities for kids: face painting, bubble-making, and hula-hooping by Wild Earth Hoops from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The vendors will be selling their harvest and homemade goods from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Coffee from Bollo’s will be available.

Albright began research on farmers markets in 1998 with particular focus on the Blacksburg Farmers Market. She extended her studies to farmers markets across the country to better understand their role as community gathering places and in some cases civic institutions.

Her findings led her to enlarge the scope of her studies to include documenting the various configurations of multiple vendors and each one’s display of goods. Albright collected numerous vendor stories along the way. She is nearing completion of a book, Blacksburg Farmers Market: an archive, which contains some of her findings and stories of 30 vendors that sell at the market. It will be available at the 10th annual “Breakfast at the Market” in mid-July 2010.

In 2001, Albright founded the Friends of the Farmers Market as a volunteer group of citizens who provide development and business support to the Blacksburg Farmers Market and enhance its role as a civic institution. Over the years its mission has expanded to include educational programs about benefits of locally grown food and sustainable agriculture, as well as special events that enhance its role as a community gathering place within the region.

Albright received the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Certificate for Excellence in Outreach in 2007, the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005, the college’s Certificate for Teaching Excellence in 2000, and the Community Design Assistance Center Certificate for Outstanding Public Service in 1998.

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