Wine at the Castle supports Las Nubes

A hot and tropical Saturday in June marked the second annual Wine at the Castle event, which raised more than $20,000 for the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation and research conducted at York’s Las Nubes Rainforest.

Above: View of the Las Nubes Rainforest in southeastern Costa Rica

Las Nubes (“the clouds” in Spanish) is York’s very own rainforest in Costa Rica. York faculty and students, along with international partners, conduct valuable research at the site toward protecting the biodiversity of Las Nubes, supporting the sustainable development of local communities, and understanding and conserving our global biosphere.

Above: From left, York University Foundation President & CEO Paul Marcus, with Fisher Fund supporters Jim Love, Sam Sarick and Joanne Love

The event, held in the Berkeley Castle Courtyard in downtown Toronto on June 21, brought guests together to enjoy a silent and live wine auction, along with samplings of food and wine from some of the city’s finest establishments. Threatening rainstorms did little to dampen spirits and the sun was shining just in time for the live auction, which featured a diversity of vintages. The event was organized by The Wine Establishment to benefit the Fisher Fund.

Right: From left, Woody Fisher, Gilberto Bojaca, wine educator and sommelier, and Valerie Grant

“Thank you all for helping us protect this very important part of biodiversity in the Neotropical region,” said Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) Professor Howard Daugherty. “The Fisher Fund has enabled more than 25 graduate students to do field research in the Las Nubes region and over 200 undergraduate students to participate in ecological field courses there. We are grateful to be able to give them such a rewarding research and life experience.”

Research has focused on biodiversity protection, deforestation and forest fragmentation, carbon sequestration, sustainable agriculture, and ecotourism. Las Nubes itself is home to a great diversity of plants and animals, likely including many yet to be studied scientifically.

Above: FES Professor Howard Daugherty (left) and Jim Love (centre) with students who have participated in the Las Nubes program

Through international collaboration, Las Nubes partners have made important strides toward understanding and practicing global sustainability. One of Las Nubes’ many success stories has been its partnership with York University, Timothy’s World Coffee and a farmers’ cooperative in Costa Rica to produce and market Las Nubes Coffee. This is a sustainable, organic and certified Fair Trade coffee.

Las Nubes was donated to York by Dr. Woody Fisher in 1998. Fisher, who was conferred with an honorary doctor of laws degree from York this spring (see the June 17 edition of Y-File), was inspired to purchase the rainforest and preserve its immense biodiversity after visiting Costa Rica on holiday.

Left: From left, Dean Dover, Lisa Gleva, principal gifts officer, York University Foundation, and Rosemary Dover. The Dovers are long-time supporters of the Fisher Fund.

York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies established the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation to honour Fisher and support activities in the rainforest. The Fund and Las Nubes are celebrating 10 years of outstanding achievements. A passionate community of like-minded individuals — researchers, students and donors — continue to support the rainforest.

Earlier this year, several noteworthy announcements were made, including plans for the creation of a new endowed Chair in Neotropical Research, the establishment of a research and teaching facility in Costa Rica, and the creation of two graduate scholarships for students involved with the Las Nubes Rainforest. For details see the April 25 edition of Y-File.

Right: From left, Jim Love, Cindy Wilkes and Dave Steadman of The Wine Establishment

Funds raised for Las Nubes also support the York to the Power of 50 Campaign, organized by York University Foundation — already at more than $160 million in pledges, more than three-quarters of the way toward its $200 million goal.