1 in 2000: Maggie Heberlein, “your best friend in five minutes”

by Alyssa Chen, Features Reporter
photo contributed by Maggie Heberlein, graphic by Emily Cheng

Although working at a farmer’s market may seem like a mundane job to most, for junior Maggie Heberlein, working at Volante Farms in Needham is like working at home.

“[My dad became] the head chef there when I was younger, probably like 10 years ago, and then my mom started working there,” she said. “My brother works there, too, over the summers, so it’s kind of a family thing.”

Volante Farms is a family-owned farmer’s market in Needham, complete with a deli, an ice-cream parlor, an alcohol cave, a grocery and a bakery, which is where Maggie works. 

Although the work picks up around the winter holidays with themed drinks and snowman shaped cookies, Heberlein said that the busier times are still one of her favorite parts of working at Volante’s, as it is packed with traditions.

“[Every year,] we make a giant replica of Volante Farms out of gingerbread. My mom and I even put stuff on the inside, [including] little crates of fake vegetable candies,” she said. “There are a bunch of little hidden Santa chocolates, and you’re supposed to see if you can find them all. We put it in the middle of the store for people to look at, and it’s pretty cool.”

She said that these traditions line up with another critical part of working at Volante Farms: sharing the joy with others. 

“I love when people eat the food I make and you can see their reactions and how happy it makes them,” she said. “Sometimes people come up to me at school, and they’ll say that they love the English muffins or one specific thing, and it’s really satisfying to know that they like something that I helped with.”

Todd Heberlein, Maggie’s father and long-time executive chef of Volante’s bakery, said that he has noticed a change in Maggie’s mindset ever since she started working.

“Working at Volante’s has given her a really strong work ethic,” Todd said. “I know your first job you ever have is tough, but she came in and brought a lot of enthusiasm, and that resonates with a lot of other things she does now as well.”

Despite having some difficult customers, Maggie said that the community has never failed to support one another.

“They make sure that you always feel safe,” she said. “Everyone stands up for each other and tries to have their backs.”

Volante’s café manager Courtney Smith said she admires Maggie’s caring qualities, especially how much she encourages the people around her.

“When she works, she always brings such a positive, fun attitude, and it’s contagious to the other people who are working with her,” Smith said. “If someone’s upset, she’s so caring and sweet, and she’s able to help turn their day around.”

Her friendly personality serves her well, especially when working with coworkers of different ages.

“The people there are really good about accepting anyone,” she said. “Even though I’m younger than pretty much everyone, it’s still nice to become friends with them.”

Maggie’s willingness to help anyone, whether she’s familiar with them or not, has struck a close friend and coworker junior Annika Engelbrecht as one of her most admirable traits.

“I know no matter how well she knows you, she’ll always be willing to help you and try to make your life better,” Engelbrecht said. “She’s been there for me when I’ve struggled through things, and we’ve had so many fun adventures together.”

This compassion has struck Smith as well — she said that Maggie’s empathy has encouraged her to reflect and improve upon herself.

“She inspires me to be better and more caring and compassionate towards others, especially if I’m feeling frustrated at work,” Smith said. “It’s her sweet characteristics that remind me that I need to have more compassion for others.”

Junior Meejee Sarvey said that Maggie’s amiable presence is one of her most overlooked qualities that has impacted both coworkers and friends.

“Everybody who works with her knows that she has a very positive mindset, but I don’t think everybody feels that she’s as approachable as she is,” she said. “You really just have to go up to her and start a conversation, and you’ll be one of her best friends in five minutes.”