The Town of Luther, OK, will transform into a two-day city when over 100 vendors open for business during the Luther Pecan Festival, Nov. 18 – 19, on Main Street. Each vendor, from artists to food trucks to nonprofits, will have their best wares for holiday gift-giving for Thanksgiving gatherings, Christmas events, and holiday spreads. Each business has a story of passion, talent, and hustle – and when you ask them about their “why,” you inevitably find inspiration.
Pivot Preserves made a strong showing in the local news cycle when their fresh “Okla-made” fruity jams hit the market, including this story from the local Fox affiliate, this story from the Journal Record, and this mention from Food Dood Dave Cathey.
Please allow me to pivot (see what I did there?) for a mom moment.
Pivot Preserves creator and Lydia Shelton is in my phone as “My Darling Daughter.” She’s our only daughter, in the middle of our trio, and she does not get her patience for the “rolling boil” from me. I can’t say rolling boil three times fast, let alone get my jam to set up properly. Her skills and instincts come from within her, with genetic guidance obviously from her Dad’s side of the family. I will take credit for encouraging her to use the real oven instead of the Barbie EZ Bake Oven she was gifted when she was little. You can’t make cheesecake, donuts, or croissants with a toy.
She honed her culinary skills and began working for restaurants and bakeries in Luther and Oklahoma City before landing a new role to create delicious food at Pivot.
The Pivot gig required creating teen-friendly recipes, introducing nutrition creatively, developing policies and procedures, and organizing the pantry and kitchen. Another part involved using donated food, like on the day 150 pounds of fresh berries arrived unexpectedly.
Practical Education is their Jam
Some of the berries went into muffins, some were pureed, some went into the freezer … and some became delicious jam.
The spread sparked a lightbulb moment for the organization’s leadership that embraces innovation. What if … this could be a business? Pivot helps young people aging out of foster care, in the criminal justice system, or experiencing some level of homelessness and looks for ways to help them prepare for their future, including the workforce. A social enterprise would allow them to learn how to interact in the workforce through on-the-job training at the facility.
Soon, a sustainable business plan was drafted, willing investors caught the vision, and a big grant was awarded to launch Pivot Preserves, the 50-year-old organization’s first social enterprise. Lydia took a deep dive into learning about manufacturing, food labeling, product testing, and mass production.
Pivot Preserves debuted a few weeks ago with online ordering and pop-up shops. Next, the products will be available for wholesale customers like Neighborhood Jam. Proceeds go right back into the program, which provides workforce training in business, marketing, food service, and chopping … so much fruit.
Pivot Preserves naturally belongs at the Luther Pecan Festival, and we love our special connection. Visitors can load up on peach, cherry limeade, or mixed berry jam for themselves, gift baskets, or the breakroom at work.
Find Pivot Preserves on Saturday, Nov. 18. Lydia likely will float between the Pivot booth and the pie booth, where she sells pecan pies, pecan pie slices, and her pecan mini pies with her Dad (Stan the Man). She and her brothers have been part of this festival every year since its beginning in 2017. I’m forever grateful and love them so!
Shop and learn
We are honored many nonprofits, like Pivot Preserves, choose the Luther Pecan Festival to share their “why” and wares with savvy shoppers at our two-day city. It’s fantastic to celebrate the good in our communities and get involved.
Read With Me Foundation
USDA-Discrimination Financial Assistance Program Gimel Group
Threatt Filling Station
Metropolitan Library System
DHS Foster Care Recruitment
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Social Services Foster Care Program
Luther Historical Society
Support Luther Schools
Tyler Slawson Ministries