Santa Cruz Arts & Technology Festival PRESENTS

A Panel Discussion: Water,
Agriculture & Permaculture

Thu., May 11, 2017 · 6:30-9:00 pm

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH)

  • Daniel Robin, Moderator – Managing Partner, In3 Group, impact investing and renewables finance
  • Gerasimos ChristoforatosAquaBiotic Systems, aquaponics with applied permaculture design
  • Russ Speer  – W. Coast Representative and Explainer-in-Chief, Voices of Water for Climate & New Water Paradigm Management LLC
  • Angus Mills  – COO of Coast Bio and Owner/Founder of Liquid Biotech, grower for WAMM (Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana)
  • Doniga Feliz Markegard  – Owner/operator Markegard Family Grass-Fed LLC, begun in 2006, raising grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork and dairy on 8,000 acres.

Admission cost is $10; tickets at

Questions?  Contact Daniel Robin at 831-761-0700

Location:  MAH Auditorium, 705 Front St., downtown Santa Cruz
(MacPherson Center/Octagon, near Trader Joes; during construction, enter only via Front St.)

Purpose of Session –our collective “foodprint”

Conventional agriculture causes a host of problems on par with CO2 emissions from transportation, and is arguably one of our most polluting and unsustainable industries.  Topsoil loss, desertification, toxins, coral reef bleaching, loss of biodiversity and habitat … it doesn’t need to be this way.

So-called “ecological” agriculture and permaculture design principles go beyond established organic standards to regenerate and rehydrate soils, cleaning up what we put into our bodies, now and for future generations.  Coping with or adapting to climate change is not simply enough.  Panelists offer practical solutions for reversing humanity’s “footprint”.

Key Questions

  • Is agriculture part of the problem, or part of the solution? (Yes; it appears to be both.)
  • What do hydroponics, aquaponics, land-based water cycles, and regenerative agriculture have in common?
  • How do our food-growing and consumption patterns influence health of people and planet?
  • How is nature a source of inspiration for optimizing agriculture, all renewable resources?
  • What are the latest and smartest practices for sustainable soil and ecological food production? What are the design principles?
  • What’s causing desertification and what can be done to reverse it?
  • How are water and agriculture tied to a livable climate, clean water, energy and biodiversity?

Panel Discussion Format

We will begin with brief (up to 6 minute) presentations by each panelist, followed by lots of time for Q&A.  The moderator will lead with initial questions then open the floor to questions and discussion with the audience.  The event will be as interactive and solution-oriented as possible. 

Come to this session with your questions, proposed solutions, vision for the future, and with any/all colleagues and friends who eat. 

Moderator and Speaker Biographies

Daniel Robin (moderator) is sustainability professional, coach, facilitator and workshop leader, also serving clients as a venture catalyst, impact investment and fundraising strategist ( since 1996.

He works with both startups and established companies in the US and abroad, specializing in clean technology, renewable energy, renewable resources, water, agriculture, green chemistry, and impact investing.

Clients include Driscoll’s, HP, PG&E, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Seagate, Threshold, and numerous projects, cleantech and sustainable business startups.

Mr. Robin obtained his bachelors degree in Computer & Information Science from UC Santa Cruz, completed graduate studies in International Business from UC Berkeley and has numerous certificates including Marketing (UC Extension), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP Comprehensive), Coaching (Coaches Training Institute and CoachVille), Public Speaking (Toastmasters), and Emerging Markets Finance (Moody’s Analytics).


Doniga Feliz Markegard (Markegard Family Grass-fed) comes to ranching with a background in nature and permaculture. This has given her a perspective on the real risks that we are facing as a species. In her youth she was mentored by some of the leading wildlife trackers, naturalists and Native spiritual elders. She spent years alone and with a small group of passionate youth in the Western Washington Wilderness learning the ways of the ancestors, immersing in nature, bird language, survival skills and wildlife tracking.

Gerasimos Christoforatos (AquaBiotic Systems) is a passionate and dedicated aquaponic designer, consultant and builder.  He has been providing soil biology, permaculture and aquaponic services for over 10 years in Greece, Nicaragua and California.

Dr. Russ Speer is the West Coast coordinator for Voices of Water for Climate, based on the work of Slovakian hydrologist Michal Kravčík (, and New Water Paradigm Management LLC.  Download a copy of this seminal work

Angus Mills was born and California raised in the heart of Tulare county.  A strong work ethic and the hunger to learn quickly developed on his parents small beef ranch. The experiences from growing up in the Central Valley propelled interests in resource management and agriculture. Angus was taught early the importance of hard work and when he left the valley he studied agro-ecology and bio-chem at UCSC and UCD. Over the last 13 years he has founded and worked in number of agriculture related businesses oriented to localization and sustaining availability of resources. In his free time Angus enjoys pig herding, greenhouse growing, eating delicious food and hiking all over California with his wife and bull mastiff.

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