Blooming Success: Alana Brookfield’s Floral Journey in Baltimore

Alana Brookfield

Meet Alana Brookfield, a Baltimore native and proud graduate of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School (BT), who has turned her love for flowers into a thriving business. As the founder of Brookfield Blooms, Alana offers an array of services, including seasonal cut flower subscriptions, exquisite floral designs, and engaging workshops, all designed to bring the beauty of nature into the lives of Baltimore residents. Keep reading to discover more about Alana’s passion for all things floral and how she’s making a blooming impact in the Baltimore area.

This farmer-florist from Pikesville spent a gap year in Israel, then got her degree in PR from Boston University in 2010. After living in Boston for a few years, she moved back to Baltimore with her husband and toddler to be closer to family.

How did you first get involved with The Associated and what does it mean to you being involved in the Young Adult Division (YAD)?

I grew up participating in Associated events- my father David Brooks was the president of CHAI and I have fond memories of cleaning a stream for neighbor good day! It’s been nice to get involved again as an adult. I actually just taught a floral design workshop for YAD, which was a blast!

What was your experience growing up in Jewish Baltimore?

I had a very Jewish upbringing in Baltimore starting with preschool at BT, Krieger Schechter Day School for kindergarten through eighth grade, and then back to Beth Tfiloh for high school. I also acted as an assistant Tot Shabbat leader at Beth El for basically my entire teenage life, did Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutoring and was an active member of Seaboard USY. 

What is a farmer-florist?

It’s actually exactly what it sounds like – I’m a farmer who grows her own flowers and uses them to make and sell bouquets and arrangements!

How do your Jewish values coincide with flower farming?

I believe in the Jewish practice of preserving our planet for future generations. One way we do this is through regenerative growing practices such as using no-till beds, composting and supporting pollinators.

I also believe strongly in the idea of “hidor mitzvah,” or beautifying the mitzvah, and some of my favorite events to design for are Jewish holidays. In fact, Rosh Hashanah is usually my busiest time of year! I’d love to expand my business and get into floral design for other simchas like baby makings, bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings!

What is your favorite flower and why?

It’s funny, because this has definitely changed since I started growing my own cut flowers. My absolute favorite right now is the poppy. There are a ton of different varieties, but I grow what’s known as “bread seed poppies,” which actually produce these gorgeous pods that are filled with…you guessed it…the poppy seeds we eat on bagels! Though the petals only last a few days, the pods add beautiful texture and dimension to floral arrangements. 

How did you get into your profession?

I quit my corporate job at the end of 2017 and started teaching floral design workshops through a Boston-based start up called Alice’s Table while I figured out my next move. I soon found out I was pregnant with my first son and never went back to a traditional corporate job. When I moved back from Boston to Baltimore in April of 2020, I started taking on a few floral design projects here and there. I didn’t really pivot into actual flower farming for another year or so.

I’m now extremely passionate about local flowers and supporting local flower farmers. I technically have a “micro farm,” i.e. a tiny farm where I crank out as many flowers as possible. Unlike a traditional gardener who grows things based on how they’ll look in their garden, I try to fit as many future “stems” as possible into a small space, harvesting each flower at the ideal time, which is typically before they’re fully in bloom. Right now, my goal is to use at least 50% of my own flowers in everything I design during my growing season (April-October) and I hope to increase that goal every year.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about local flowers?

It’s hard to choose one thing, but I guess it’s that local flowers are just…better. Most flowers at the grocery store are imported, meaning they are flown in from other countries where they go in and out of refrigeration and don’t actually reach the consumer for a long period of time. Plus, we have no idea exactly which chemicals are sprayed on them to help them survive their travels from abroad to the consumer’s vase. Local flowers are fresher and are often the product of organic and/or regenerative practices that are better for the earth. Not to mention that since they are #grownnotflown they produce fewer carbon emissions. Plus, local farmers are able to provide certain types of flowers, like dahlias and zinnias that can’t survive the shipping process. 

How did you become interested in flower arranging and growing your own flowers?

I’ve always loved flowers, and when I moved back to Baltimore during the pandemic, my husband (a software engineer who spends most of his time at a computer) got really into the science of growing. We combined our two passions (and the fact that we weren’t going out much because of Covid) to transform our mostly-grass yard into a micro flower farm.

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