Women Wednesday Spotlight: Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes

Meet the founders of The Farmer’s Hand, Detroit’s fresh food and artisan product destination

March is Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate than feature the work and voices of Detroit’s female entrepreneurs, community organizers, and artists. Every Wednesday this month we’ll spotlight passionate and purposeful women who are working to shape the city’s future.

To set the series in motion, we talked to Kiki Louya and Rohani Foulkes, founders and co-owners of  The Farmer’s Hand in Corktown, a local gourmet grocery store and take-out counter. Since its opening in 2016, the store has aimed to make it easier to shop for Michigan products.

Louya is a Detroit native, born into Congolese and Southern American traditions. With a strong culinary background, having graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, she is dedicated to providing a simple, healthy, and accessible way for people to shop. Hailing from Cairns, Australia, Foulkes’s titles have included professional chef, high school teacher, and Gleaner’s Community Food Bank team member. The Detroiter says she has a deep commitment to honest and wholesome food for all.

This spring, The Farmer’s Hand will expand with Folk, an artisanal cafe specializing in seasonal, made-from-scratch comfort foods inspired by the partners’ global cultural backgrounds and travels. “Folk was founded on a deep-rooted desire to gather people together around home-made food and shared experiences,” says Louya.

We sat down with Louya and Foulkes to discuss The Farmer’s Hand, their overall mission, and the impact of women in Detroit:

Hour Detroit: Why did you start The Farmer’s Hand?

Louya: We started The Farmer’s Hand to address a need we saw in Detroit for greater access to fresh, healthy food grown locally.

Why is fresh and locally sourced products part of your mission?

Foulkes: Within our current food system, food travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to fork. This often requires food to be harvested before it’s ready and ripened on a truck. High fossil fuels are required to keep this cycle going and by the time food reaches your plate, farmers receive an average 17 cents for every dollar of retail dollar sold.  Meanwhile, Michigan is ranked No. 2 in the country just behind California in terms of agricultural diversity and the urban farm community is growing here in Detroit. We source local and fresh because we believe consumers not only deserve better but they are seeking better — and Michigan is capable of delivering.

Detroit has a number of women artists, activists, and entrepreneurs who are actively shaping the city. Do you think it’s important that women be a part of Detroit’s future?

Louya: Absolutely—and we are! In fact, we are currently a staff of all women, we are an entirely women-owned business, and over 50 percent of our food partners are majority women-owned businesses as well.

How are you leaving a positive impact on Detroit?

Foulkes: By way of engaging with our community, listening to their needs, providing greater access to fresh food, and providing more accessible price points, we feel good about our contribution to the city.

To learn more about the Farmer’s Hand, visit thefarmershand.com.