SEEDS runs day-to-day with the support of an energetic staff dedicated to Durham’s next generation.

Meet the Staff

Heather Hill

Program Coordinator

Heather Hill has been developing and leading programs at SEEDS since 2010. In 2016, she took some time off to hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain. She also recently moved out to the country to see more stars, hear less sirens, eat a lot of peaches, and run in the woods with her dog Murray. Though Heather is from the desert of Tucson, Arizona, she can’t get enough of the ecology, food culture, and four-season beauty of North Carolina. Heather is pleased to be a part of this next chapter in the story of SEEDS and share her excitement for growing and cooking great food with all who walk through the garden gate.


Phone: 919-683-1197 ext. 4

Herb Thornton

SEEDlings After-School Coordinator

Herb has worked in the before- and after-school programs at Hope Valley Elementary School, motivating and engaging the students in academic, social and professional experiences they might not otherwise get at school. Passionate about children, his move to Eno Valley Elementary School as an educator for children with different learning styles was a natural fit. Herb studied English and sociology at North Carolina Central University, and now, in his free time, he cooks and reads modernist fiction and poetry. (He’s also a regular participant in the annual Great Durham Pun Challenge!) As a garden and chef educator at SEEDS, Herb helps engage young people in growing and cooking food as life skills; they learn to care for the environment, conserve natural resources, build confidence and foster teamwork.


Phone: 919.683.1197 ext. 6

Jeff Howell

Executive Director

Jeff Howell joins SEEDS after four years at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability and E.K. Powe Elementary School in Durham where he worked as an exceptional children’s teacher and case manager. He earned an undergraduate degree in environmental science from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied behavioral and community health science. He believes that hands-on learning is a necessary tool for all students to remain engaged and understand new concepts. With a persistently positive outlook, Jeff brings to SEEDS a commitment to community building, collaboration and social justice.


Phone: 919.683.1197 ext. 8

Trevor Hyde

Garden Manager & Educator

Trevor is super excited to join the SEEDS Team as the Garden Manager and Educator. After a long stint in academia, at Trinity College, Yale, and UNC-Chapel Hill, Trevor realized the Ivory Tower was the wrong place for him, and switched to practical work with a community impact through food. After a second Masters in Agriculture and Education at NC-State, he worked on farms and managed his own incubator plot, honing his skills in permaculture, interplanting, and seasonality, with an educational focus. After a two-year search for the right educational agricultural nonprofit, he was excited for the possibilities unfolding in this new chapter of SEEDS. He believes that we can change the world through food and our interaction with nature, and that teaching youth will create a generation of change for the future.

Phone: 919-683-1197 ext. 5

Sumi Dutta

Chef Educator

Sumi teaches seed-to-table cooking classes with the youth at SEEDS. She recently returned to Durham, her hometown, by way of Atlanta and New Orleans and is happy to make home and community here again. Sumi is a social justice educator, writer, and herbalist who teaches feminist food healing classes across the South. She invites folks to get curious about the feelings and stories our food holds. All her work aims to reconnect people of color to the earth, without uncertainty of our belonging.


Phone: 919.683.1197 ext. 7

Aaron Kienow

Garden Assistant

Aaron grew up growing vegetables with his mother in their garden. She was a creative gardener, scavenging potential containers in order to grow where the soil was poor. Aaron has volunteered with the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Geer Street location, where he got his first hands-on taste of farm work. He has worked many years as a chef and wants to flip the side of the food industry he works in. At SEEDS, Aaron enjoys the hands-on learning environment, and the opportunity to learn about greenhouse-management and expand his exposure to various plants.

Cynelsa Broderick

Operations Manager

Cynelsa joined the staff after past experiences in sustainability and environmental education, administrative work, and the Conservation Trust for NC’s AmeriCorps Program. She has lived in Durham since Summer 2011, moving from Dover, Delaware after college. She earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Delaware and is passionate about the creative and important connection between STEM and the arts. When not in our educational garden and kitchen classroom, Cynelsa can be found outdoors enjoying nature or volunteering in the Durham arts community, lettering local calligraphy projects, or making visual art of her own.