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

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