It’s a rutabaga day at Rock Hill’s downtown farmers market

There are usually two kinds of days at the Old Town Farmers Market in Rock Hill – kale or rutabaga.

Kale days happen on Thursdays, when many downtown workers come by in the afternoon or early evening. The customers are usually younger and health conscious, buying kale and other fresh greens.

Rutabaga days come along on Saturday mornings. Shoppers are usually older who value rutabaga and Swiss chard.

“It’s the day the market goes old school,” said Vickie Pennington, dubbed the market’s “lettuce lady.” The farmers market opened for the season this week; organizers say it will remain open Thursdays and Saturdays through late August.

Later in the season it will be a tomato, corn, strawberry and okra day whether it’s Thursday or Saturday. The four are the staples for the farmers market, now held under tents in a parking lot off Caldwell Street.

Hollye Reid of Rock Hill was one of the Saturday patrons, coming for fresh carrots from The Pennell Barn of York. The Pennells had fresh “purple haze” carrots, advising buyers to wash, but not peel, them. All the goodness is on the outside of the carrot, Anita Pennell said.

The Pennells also had rutabagas, radishes, greens and starter heirloom tomato plants for sale Saturday. There were red, orange and yellow tomato plants and even Ananas Noire, which has a skin with shades of green, purple, orange, and yellow, ready for planting.

Pennington had a table filled with a variety of lettuce. She had some butter crunch and red oak lettuce in bunches. There were also bags of mixed lettuce for sale. “What doesn’t sell goes into the salad tonight,” she said.

The most popular item at Pennington’s table, however, was strawberries from Springs Farm in Fort Mill. She had sold out one Saturday just an hour after the farmers market opened, and husband Larry made another run for strawberries.

Those started selling fast too with Frank Cook and his family from Tega Cay buying some. It was the Cooks’ first time to the Rock Hill market.

Arts and crafts have also become a staple of the market.

Jane Tillett of Jibber Jabbers was there to show that rabbits and produce can peacefully exist side-by-side. Her stuffed rabbits, made from a faux alpaca material, flopped on a table, their fur ruffling in the gentle breeze. It wasn’t long before visitors, old and young alike, stopped by to cuddle – and buy – them.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

Days and Hours

Old Town Farmers Market is open on Thursdays and Saturdays until Aug. 29. Hours are 5 p.m to 8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday. The market is off Caldwell Street.