Who is Small World?

Luke Stodola

Involved since: November 2007
Worker-owner since: November 2007

I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and moved to Rochester in 2003 to attend RIT. Not happy sitting in a classroom all day, I began traveling, visiting Mexico and Eastern & Western Europe.  After working on a French organic farm/bakery/creamery/hostel I returned to Rochester, finished college, and co-founded Small World with some friends. When I'm not in the kitchen here at Small World, I like to spend my time farming, building websites for local businesses and organizations, traveling, and learning languages.

Makes: Drinks, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso, Sauces & Spreads, Pickles, Vinegar
Favorite Small World products: Country Multigrain Bread, Red Miso, Fermented Garlic Paste

Ruth Blackwell

Involved since: November 2008
Worker-owner since: November 2008

I grew up in Cabot, Vermont (yes, where the cheese is from).  I started baking at age 7, because I realized that to eat as much pie as I wanted, I better figure out how to make the stuff.  Later, I learned how to make bread on a large scale when I cooked for 3 seasons at Indian Brook, one of the Farm and Wilderness summer camps in Plymouth, VT.  I graduated from Alfred University with a Fine Arts degree in 2003, and then moved back to the Rochester area for love in 2008.  I initially joined the Small World crew as the gluten free bread inventor, then branched out into all aspects of baked goodness. I am also the head farmer and owner of Mud Creek Farm CSA and in the past have worked at Peacework Farm.

Makes: Bread, Sweets

Kelsey Smith

Involved since: October 2012
Worker-owner since: May 2014

I was born in Fort Worth, TX and moved to Rochester in 2010 to attend RIT. I graduated in December 2014. I started working at Small World in October 2012 for the free bread making lessons and fell in love with the job. Passionate about cooking, baking, and the local community, I am excited to continue learning and growing with Small World.

Favorite Small World products: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins, Garlic Sauerkraut, Pumpkin Bar, Savory Feta Bread, Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie, Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread, Red Miso, Fermented Garlic Paste, Gari (Pickled Ginger)

Emily Alvo

Involved since: February 2013

I was born and raised on Long Island, but Rochester is my heart’s hometown. After graduating from college at SUNY Geneseo with my BA in literature, I decided to stay up here in the frozen north country. I first came to Small World as a vegan baker, and now I’m back to ferment all the rich spoils of our local farms.

You can find me in the fermentery obsessing over the seeming magic of fermentation, marveling at the way flavors develop and bloom with a little help from (millions of them, tiny bacterial ones) their friends, and experimenting with new products. I love talking to customers at market, educating them on our amazing products, and sampling out whatever’s caught their eye. Fermented foods are endlessly fascinating and endlessly delicious- come see me on Saturday mornings at the Public Market, have a taste of whatever I’m selling, and I’ll have you convinced in no time!

When I’m not evangelizing about fermented food, I might be slinging lattes at Fuego Coffee, writing articles and custom content for my freelance clients, petting Kelsey’s dog, or wandering the Adirondacks.

Makes: Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso, Sauces & Spreads, Pickles, Vinegar
Favorite Small World products: Black Bean Miso, Conserva Cruda di Pomodoro, Cucumber Kimchi, Fermented Garlic Paste

Nathan Carter

Involved since: August 2013
Worker-owner since: April 2014

I am originally from Lexington, Kentucky. I came to Rochester to follow a girl, and stayed to ferment and bake. I enjoys staring at vegetables growing in the garden, asking the question "can I ferment this?" and dreaming of having a dog. When I'm not working in the kitchen, I can be found reading a book from the Small World library or tinkering with the website.

Makes: Bread, Pickles
Favorite Small World products: Almond Hazelnut Macaroons, Ginger Carrots, Maple Cashew Granola, Sourdough Rye, Sweet White Miso

Samantha BennettLepel

Involved since: September 2015

I'm a Rochester native, recently returned after four years in Pittsburgh where I finished up my my Bachelors in Arts management. I joined Small World to add another facet to my kitchen and creative knowledge base, and to become more immersed in and connected to this city that I love.

Makes: Bread

James Hallenbeck

Involved since: October 2015

Rochester native, I began as an intern at Small World Food in 2015. I have since become manager in the fermentery, leading teams of employees and volunteers in the production of pickles, miso, vinegar, and many others. My goal is to create local and sustainable alternatives to the condiments and pickles us Rochesterians have come to love, with reverence for the traditions and science surrounding their origins in fermentation. Outside of Small World, I can be seen delivering to local grocery stores and tending the Small World stand at Brighton market.

Makes: Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Miso, Sauces & Spreads, Pickles, Vinegar
Favorite Small World products: Black Bean Miso, Chickpea Miso, Cucumber Kimchi, Curry Sauerkraut, Fermented Garlic Paste, Hot Pickled Peppers, Makdous, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Pumpkin Barbeque Sauce

Amber Doerr

Involved since: August 2017

Alivia Ruiz

Involved since: September 2017

I'm originally from Buffalo, and came to Rochester in 2007 to attend RIT for Medical Illustration. My awareness of the importance of sustainable alternatives to current food systems, and my interest in food security has grown over the years after graduating in 2011, which has led me to this internship opportunity with Small World Foods! I'm excited to learn, to experience, and to incorporate my illustration and graphic design background to help educate others about the wonders of our local farms, food, and products that we make here at Small World. When I'm not working, you can find me singing, writing music, making art, hiking, and straw bale gardening when the weather is appropriate.

Alyssa Roggow

Involved since: October 2017


Over the years, we've had dozens of people come through Small World as interns, worker-owners, and volunteers. Here is an incomplete list: