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

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, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Pumpkin Barbeque Sauce, Black Bean Miso, Cucumber Kimchi, Makdous

Robert Hagelberg

Involved since: January 2016

Robert began working with Small World in 2016, helping out at the Rochester Public Market. Over time he has taken on more responsibilities, including wholesale deliveries, inventory management, and accounting. He also runs Workin' in the Dirt, a small farm in Scottsville, NY.

Stephen Shoaf

Involved since: October 2016

Stephen has been interested in food & farming since a young age. He started at Small World helping out at the market, and then moved into fermentery work. In addition to his work at Small World, Stephen is beginning a small-scale microgreens operation.

Bethany Higa

Involved since: May 2018

Beth began baking bread at Small World in 2018 and learned the ropes quickly. She is currently our head baker, handling all the day-to-day operations as well as developing new recipes.

Ansel Eklund

Involved since: September 2019


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