A Growing Business

CoLab Farms expands its mission to bring sustainable food to our community with a new indoor market, restaurant, bar, and more on the way

Pamela Huizenga Alexander and CoLab cofounder Allison Linn; Photo by Nathan Venzara
Growing up, Pamela Huizenga Alexander remembers wandering through watermelon fields and exploring orange groves across South Florida with her family. She spent summers on her grandfather’s farm and nursed her own gardens while living in Fort Lauderdale. A fourth-generation Floridian whose father was the late businessman H. Wayne Huizenga (founder of Blockbuster Video), Alexander says she has been drawn to “growing things” for as long as she can remember.
Mike Meier prunes a tomato plant; Photo by Nathan Venzara

When she moved onto her parent’s property in Palm City about three years ago, her green thumb gradually morphed into something bigger—until she “accidentally” turned the family garden into a full-scale farm. “I decided to expand the garden area for fun,” Alexander recalls. “But I expanded it a little bigger than what I could manage on weekends.” To help run the farm, she sought out someone experienced in organic gardening and small-scale farming and found Allison Linn, a master gardener with a budding honeybee business.

Stuart Mayor (and CoLab’s director of farm operations) Mike Meier with farmhand Stacey McCue at the Stuart Green Market; Photo by Nathan Venzara

Alexander’s garden-turned-farm was the catalyst in creating CoLab Farms in 2018. The organization now oversees a collection of farms focused on growing organic and sustainable produce for local communities, including CoLab Farms Indiantown and CoLab East, with more locations on the way. “CoLab is a play on the word ‘collaboration,’” says Alexander. “We collaborate both internally, growing the best possible produce, and also with other local farms to build food communities.”

The original CoLab Farms, in Indiantown, is currently in its second growing season after undergoing a major renovation. The farm now includes 17,000 square feet of greenhouses, says Alexander, who is also working on creating a mushroom area and expanding the beehives. CoLab East, on Linden Street in Stuart, features a similar state-of-the-art facility, which is expected to be completed this summer. In addition to greenhouses, it includes a botanical event space and a forthcoming catering company. CoLab also recently partnered with Ground Floor Farm in Stuart to create CoLab Kitchen. When it debuts this fall, the space will include an indoor market, a restaurant and bar, and various urban farm areas.

Photo by Nathan Venzara

With three locations, Alexander and her team will have even more space to grow, as well as offer workshops, cooking classes, and other agriculture-related events. “CoLab Kitchen will be a much larger, full-service marketplace,” she says. “We’ve gone in and completely renovated the interior of the building. What’s going on at all three of our locations is very exciting.”

Alexander is also in the process of renovating and reopening a seafood restaurant in Jensen Beach—but her main focus is CoLab Farms, with dreams of transforming the way people eat in Stuart and beyond. “My dad’s best advice was to surround yourself with people smarter than you,” she says. “I’m partnering with people who are experts in this, and together we’re building a really strong team of individuals dedicated to sustainable farming and building communities.”  

Photo by Nathan Venzara

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