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, Fermented Garlic Paste, Red Miso

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

James Hallenbeck

Involved since: October 2015
Worker-owner since: January 2018

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 Rochester Public Market.

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

Lizz deSimone

Involved since: August 2016
Worker-owner since: January 2018

I was born & raised in Northern New Jersey, educated as a printmaker in Southern New York, taught art to high schoolers in Northeastern New Jersey, and finally made my way to Rochester to pursue the greatest things in life: bread & art. When I'm not baking bread, I'm usually found talking to people about bread, eating bread, reading about bread, daydreaming about bread, or maybe making art (ie: drawing pictures of bread) or snuggling with my Rottweilers (who also love bread.)

Makes: Bakery, Fermentery, Merch
Favorite Small World products: Chickpea Miso, Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Country Multigrain Bread, Curry Sauerkraut, Ginger Carrots, Makdous, Pain au Levain, Pickled Onion, Sourdough Rye, sriROCha, Original Sauerkraut, Purple Sauerkraut, Spicy Napa Kimchi, Dilly Beans, Red Miso, Traditional Napa Kimchi

Shawn Quail

Involved since: October 2016
Worker-owner since: January 2018

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 Food! 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.

Stephen Shoaf

Involved since: October 2017

Ali Lawrence

Involved since: October 2017

Nico Shutterop

Involved since: June 2018


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