DECA’s Veteran Drivers, Scene 5

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a profile of one of DECA’s board members. After the DECA Gems competition, I vowed to never blog again. But here I am.

Shelley Darling dragged me back.

I realized that, if I didn’t tell you about Shelly, you might never meet her. She’s a little shy and not prone to self-promotion. And really, you need to meet her.

Shelley attended her first DECA Farmers’ Market meeting when her baby Gwen was just a couple weeks old. She pushed her over to Rebecca Green’s house in a stroller, and then sat there, smiling, signing up for jobs.

We thought, ‘She must be nuts.’ It turned out, she was just committed. Gwen is 5 now. She’s a big sister of two. Her mom somehow balances taking care of her and working at Toronto East General Hospital, where she is director of corporate communications, planning, partnerships and volunteer services.

This is what I mean by committed: she not only helps run the East Lynn Farmers’ Market, but she’s taken on co-managing this blog with Sheri, and sitting on DECA’s board.

Shelley is a deep, well of energy.

Here’s a photo of her in the Beach’s Easter Parade dressed as a carrot (on the left), promoting the market, along with two of her pumpkin kids Gwen and William in the wagon. The third, 8-month-old Ellie, was watching the photo be taken from her husband Mark’s back. (If you have never been in a parade dressed as a vegetable, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s as close to feeling like Princess Diana as you’re ever going to get. People literally bounce up and down and wave when you pass them. Go figure.)

Shelley Darling

My name and age is… Shelley Darling and I’m 34.


One thing people don’t know about me is…

Moving to Toronto was a one to two year plan for my husband and I back in 2006. Afterwards we would return to the land of the lakes in northern Ontario. Nine years later and we feel like this is our home. I walk to work, I can walk my kids to school, ballet, skating rinks, swimming pools… the list goes on! It’s a wonderful community that makes it hard to think about ever leaving now!


I moved to Danforth East … When our ‘only one or two years in Toronto’ plan changed to ‘a five year plan in Toronto’ we decided we should buy a house.  We lived in a condo downtown and I had mentally told myself that I would move as far east as Coxwell when house shopping. I worked at the Toronto East General Hospital (I’m still there) so when I walked the streets on my lunch breaks I realized that the neighbourhood had so much to offer us –  a lovely tree canopy, good houses with great pride in ownership and lots of young families – all with the convenient access to the subway.

One change I’ve seen over the years….  

The housing prices!


My advice to new neighbours is… 

Go out of your way to get involved and connected in the community. It could be a knitting club, running group, mommy-baby group, farmers’ market (hint: we’d be thrilled to have you join us!), volunteering at a service club or whatever else you are interested in.  StatsCan recently released a report stating that the people of Toronto scored second last when it comes to ‘happiness’ in Canada while my hometown, Sudbury, scored number one. It suggested that ‘connectedness’, not wealth has much to do with happiness and I certainly agree with that! So get connected Danforth East and get happy!  :)


The things I love most about Danforth East is…

How more and more great restaurants and gastropubs are opening within 1km of my house.


My biggest local pet peeve is…

I could always see the cigarette butts littered on the Danforth, but until last weekend when I was cleaning up the boulevard in front of my house, I never realized how many cigarette butts are discarded on the side streets as well.


My neighborhood secret is…  We like to walk a lot and spend time at East Lynn Park on the weekends with our kids, but the places we go aren’t really a secret. It’s actually getting hard to walk around with my children these days because there are so many places to stop for treats – cookies at Celina’s, ice cream at Carters, dried fruit treats from Plank Road Market. One somewhat hidden place we’ve discovered is Danforth Bowl (1554 Danforth Ave). It’s the perfect size for a family outing or a children’s birthday party.  It’s especially good for the real young ones because of their itty bitty bowling balls and launching frame to help make sure the balls at least start off in the right direction.


The place I go in DECA’s stomping grounds that you’ve likely never frequented is…

The Apple Cafe. It’s located in the medical building at 840 Coxwell Avenue across from Toronto East General Hospital. Because it’s only open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. many people may not have managed to visit it. Hannah and her husband Amir, a trained culinary chef, have been making homemade meals there for the past ten years. Having studied natural medicine in Montreal prior to coming to Toronto, she brings her knowledge of the body and healing to her international array dishes. Whether it’s her chicken biryani, spanakopita, green vegetable soufflé or robust salad bar, she uses real, fresh ingredients and regularly changes up the menu. For Hannah, it’s more than just a cafe. Given the location of the cafe many of her customers are elderly or limited mobility. She takes great pride in going out of her way to escort them to tables, assist them in getting seated and delivering their food.  It’s definitely worth the detour to meet Hannah and Amir and try one of my fav’s – the chicken caesar salad or the hummus and tabouli wrap. While you’re there ask them about catering services as well!


The thing I’ve done as a DECA board member that makes me most proud is… Helping coordinate volunteers for the farmers market along with a fantastic group of ‘farmalicous femmes’. There are over 70 regular volunteer ‘slots’ and 20-30 community booths for the market each season, in addition to the musicians, magicians and movie nights. Each week we have two volunteers to staff the DECA booth and someone voluntarily cooks dinner for all the farmers (hint #2: we’d be thrilled to have you join us). It’s hard for me to volunteer my time on Thursday afternoons when the market is running because of my work schedule and three young kids, but helping in this way allows me to donate my time when I have it doing most of the work after the kids are asleep.


My final word….

Opening day of the East Lynn Farmers’ Market is June 4th!  Please mark your calendars and contact me if you’d like to be involved. (Ed note: Shelley’s email address is

Danforth East Garage Sale – June 13

June 13 is the day, rain or shine! Sign up your address using our awesome online form by clicking here and your sale will be included on our spectacular map!

You know you have a stack of clothes you’ll never wear, boxes of kitchen stuff you haven’t used in years, and loads of sporting gear, kids stuff and random trinkets that you can live without. Now is the chance to de-clutter, meet your neighbours, make some $ and be part of this exciting Danforth East event.

How about a poster – woot woot! Here it comes…


Let’s do this! For more information and garage sale tips, click here


This Fri & Sat: EEMP fundraiser, Hirut Hoot, McGregor Fun Fair

Get your sleep now because come Friday, there is non-stop fun going on in Danforth East…

FRIDAY: Local not-for-profit East End Music Project’s TOTALLY AWESOME AND SO MUCH FUN fundraiser is happening at the Jam Factory. Raise money for non-profit music education for East End kids while getting your groove on and listening to fantastic tunes.

Also – registration is now open for EEMP’s September 2015 classes at Secord Public School. Subsidized classes in piano, ukulele, guitar, percussion, and choir offered on a sliding scale based on income. Click here to register.

FB image EEMP

Also on Friday, it’s Hirut Hoot! Before you head to the EEMP fundraiser, get a few laughs in, courtesy of comedians: Tim Blair, Cleve Jones, Gilson Lubin, Matt O’Brien, Arthur Simeon, Lee-Anne Stewart and Winston Spear. Hosted by Kevin MacDonald.

Where: Hirut Fine Ethiopian Cuisine, 2050 Danforth Avenue (at Woodbine), 416 551 7560

When: Friday May 29, 2015  9pm

Cost: $5

SATURDAY: Employ the old “hair of the dog” cure for your fun hangover, and head over to RH McGregor’s (555 Mortimer Ave., south-east corner of Cowell and Mortimer) annual Fun Fair, 11am-2pm.

Featuring fun games, robotic demonstrations, photo-booths, BBQ, lemonade stands and much more.

All proceeds go towards supporting school activities such as field trips, guest speakers, Scientist in the School and safety workshops.  Funds raised provide the staff with the opportunity to plan programs that will enrich and enhance the curriculum that is delivered to the students.



p.s. HAVE FUN!!

Let’s give a little love to Gerrard’s on Sat – please share

Remember when we crowned Gerrard Pizza & Spaghetti (1528 Danforth) as our DECA Gem on May 14?

We have all likely heard by now that last Saturday, just two days later, a terrible crime occurred at Danforth and Coxwell. What you may not know is that this was right next door to Gerrard’s, and during that ordeal, Gerrard’s front window was smashed.  Vito and his family are now out-of-pocket to pay the high deductible to get it fixed.

So, friends and neighbours, let’s do what we do best and show Gerrard’s some love.

DECA and Gerrard’s are happy to announce that SATURDAY, MAY 23 FROM 1-5PM, COME TO GERRARD’S FOR A SLICE (Veg or Pepperoni) + a PINT OF CRAFT BEER FOR $10!  This neighbourhood special will help Gerrard’s recover some (or all!) of their costs, and we all get to drink beer and eat pizza in the afternoon. Win-win!

*Update* – if beer ain’t your thing, a slice and a pop can be yours for $3.50

The special will end at 5pm but don’t let that stop you from heading over there for dinner on Saturday!

Preview of the 2015 Farmers’ Market

The East Lynn Park Farmers’ Market will be back for an 8th amazing year starting June 4th! We have some new farmers and vendors joining us this year and some returning favourites. The list of participants has been updated on the DECA website, but we have two new wineries and a few food vendors added to the roster, including a pizza vendor and a cookie maker!

Farmers Market 2015

The market will run for 20 weeks, from June 4 to October 15 with five larger events planned:

  • Grand Opening Celebration – June 11
  • Jammy Jazzfest – July 16
  • Movie in the Park – August 20
  • Applemania – September 17
  • Harvest Moon – October 8

Of course, each week will still be loaded with fun – facepainters, music, children’s games, storytimes and more! As well, local practitioners will be back each week to inspire you on living your best life at the market’s Wellness Booth. There will be everything from yoga, pilates and 3D movement to parenting and career coaching experts.

But, we still need more help! There’s different ways to get involved depending on your interests. The easiest way for many is to simply come and sit at the DECA booth for a few hours. Others get involved by cooking meals for the farmers. We could use some help designing posters for our events and we’re also looking for an eager high school student looking for 3-4 volunteer hours each week.  Send us a note at events(at) to find out more.

What’s happening for the rest of May…

Did you catch any of the DECAction last week? (I just made up that word – could you tell?) We Imagined the Danforth on Monday and had a DECAgem filled few weeks leading to the crowning of Gerrard Pizza last Thursday. Not to mention all sorts of planning for the Farmers’ Market (beginning June 4) #DanforthEast Garage Sale (June 13) and on and on…

This Thursday from 7:30-9:30pm, we are having our monthly Board meeting. Do you want to come? If so, drop a line here for details. We love it when people join us and it’s a great way to get to know us a little better.
Here are a few other events…

Rain Garden Workshop, Thursday May 21 7:00pm

We wrote about this last week but wanted to make sure that you all saw this very cool event where you can learn to plant a garden to protect your home against flooding. Awesome, right? Click here to read our earlier post on this, and to register (it’s free)

Earl Beatty Public School Fun Fair, Saturday May 23, 10am-3pm

Saturday May 23, 10am-3pm
Earl Beatty PS: 55 Woodington Avenue (just north-east of Danforth and Coxwell)
FEATURING: games, a special play area for young children, bouncy castle and slides, great food, ice cream, bake sale, face painting, and new this year the Amazing Beatty Race! Presented by EBSAC in partnership with Beatty Buddies. Revenue generated by EBSAC is going towards support of the Scientist in the School program.

Twitter: @EBFunFair
Facebook: Earl Beatty Fun Fair–earl-beatty-public-school-fun-fair/


History Talk at Danforth/Coxwell Library: Five Things You Don’t Know About Terry Fox, Wed, May 27


6:30 p.m.8:00 p.m. 

You know he is a national hero but what did he add to the national conversation? Jenny Ellison explores how Canadians were inspired by Terry Fox in ways you might not expect.

History Matters takes a slightly idiosyncratic look at sports history to mark the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Toronto. Presented in collaboration with

For more information, click here.