How Did Trax Farms Get Started?
"Farmers are the biggest gamblers in the world." --Ralph "Pop-Pop" Trax . 1948
In 1814, Jacob Trax and his family left their home in Strasbourg, France, traveled 300 miles up the Rhine River and set sail on a 3-month voyage to America.
He brought with him two sons, Louis and Frederick. After arriving in the new country, Louis made his way to Pennsylvania and settled in Pittsburgh. He married Elizabeth Gass on July 4, 1826, the same day the 3rd U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson died. The couple lived on the Northside, Squirrel Hill and the Bethel Park area. By 1865, they had 15 children and needed a larger home. Louis located a log house built in 1806 situated on 75 acres in the little town of Library in the South Hills, so he bought the place for $5,000. That was the beginning of Trax Farms and the family has farmed that property ever since!
For many years, the Trax ancestors farmed the 75 acres growing food for their family. In 1909, a street car line was built from Library to Pittsburgh and the family began to take what they could carry on the street car into the city to sell; usually butter, eggs, sausage, etc. The following generation owned a truck and regularly hauled their farm produce to the city. By the 1940's, Trax was taking several truckloads of fruits and vegetables weekly into the produce yards on Smallman Street to sell in the Strip District.
Starting to Grow
In 1948 and 1949, the family purchased additional farmland which included our current large barn. More and more fields were planted and they continued their "truck farming" selling produce regularly at the produce yards in the Strip. In 1956, the decision was made to experiment with selling produce right here on the farm. After some fresh paint and a few renovations, Trax Farms opened their barn doors to sell homegrown strawberries. It worked! Friends and neighbors loved stopping in for good things fresh from the farm. Beans, lettuce, sweet corn, tomatoes, apples and a huge array of other items were added and the name Trax soon came to mean the best in homegrown. The family continued to purchase additional parcels of land and eventually 630 acres of owned or rented land was being farmed.
"Pop-Pop Trax" was right; farmers ARE the world's biggest gamblers. Today's Trax farmers are no exception--late spring freezes, drought, hail, wind and wildlife continue to present growing challenges. But every spring finds them itching to get back on the tractors and out into the fields. Not only can they handle the challenges of nature, these farmers handled the high-stakes risk of creating 86,000 square feet of retail space to better serve their growing customer base. Today, Trax Farms has grown into one of the best farm markets and lawn and garden centers in the Pittsburgh area. With 15 departments, an antique shop, a wine shop, seasonal festivals and events, plus homegrown fruits and vegetables, it's a favorite year-round destination of Pittsburgh families. Today, a trip to Trax has become more than dropping by for sweet corn for dinner or selecting geraniums for the flower garden. It's also the place where families make memories, experience a bit of how things used to be, and the perfect place for a quick escape from the busyness of life. The seventh generation of this unique family is now working on the farm bringing new ideas and introducing new products to our customers. No matter what exciting things the future holds for this historic farm market, it's certain you'll continue to discover wonderful things for your table, home and garden when you visit. Folks in the area have been saying it for years -- "If you want the best, go to Trax." For generations, these farmers haven't been afraid of a gamble to bring you the best--and they're not stopping now. That's a promise from the Trax Family!