by Evelyn Leubner
Nikki Boxler is a digital marketer, agvocate and farmer from Varysburg, NY. Her family’s farm has been around for 99 years. The farm is a split ownership between Nikki’s grandmother and her grandmother’s three sons, one of them being Nikki’s father.
Nikki began working on the farm at a very young age. She would help her mother feed calves, and by 14 she was out in the fields driving tractors. They have taken advantage of their 6,000 acres and diversified their dairy/crop farm over the years. Along with 6,000 head of Holstein, they grow corn, grass and alfalfa, and produce maple syrup. They also have a safari park where guests are allowed to travel over two miles of trails to interact with over 35 species and 400 animals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tended to impact dairy farms in a negative way. Diversifying dairy farms can save farmers from selling out in some cases. “Being diversified can be a wonderful thing, especially in times of uncertainty,” Nikki said. “However, for us personally, due to the nature of our farming operations, COVID has impacted the dairy and maple industry significantly, making us run on an even tighter budget than usual.” Like many farms in New York, Boxler Dairy Farm is looking to sell. Although Nikki is disappointed because she won’t have the opportunity to take over the dairy, she is working to start her own ag business.
Being such a large diversified farm, Nikki explained they have 43 employees working on the dairy alone. She added, “As I have gotten older and went away to college, I decided to shift my focus to work in marketing. However, I still work a few hours a week on the dairy farm doing computer work, helping Dad with cows and stepping in to feed when needed.” When she is not working on the farm she can be found working in marketing and public relations, helping companies grow their brands and be noticed.
Nikki has a large following on her personal Instagram page (@nikkiboxler) of almost 100,000 followers. She became involved in social media about seven years ago. She said, “I love connecting with the salt of the earth, hard-working people, and social media is the easiest way to find people like you! In terms of agvocating, I always thought that one day I would have the opportunity to take over the family dairy farm, so agvocating came naturally, as farming holds such a special place in my heart.”
When looking through her social media you’ll come across her pet emu (named Rona), plus hunting, fitness, farming and fishing, providing content for many different audiences. Her large following just came to her over the past seven years, she explained. “People must find my very random life interesting in some way!” she said.
She explained that her favorite part about sharing her life through social media is being able to connect with so many people that share the rural lifestyle. Although she has many appreciative followers, she added that, of course, there are some haters. Nikki explained that it’s very easy to get discouraged with the amount of “keyboard warriors” out there. She receives hateful comments regularly, but that is just something that comes with sharing your life through social media. She doesn’t let it bother her anymore and continues to live her life and share her day-to-days on social media because it pays off.
She shared a quote that she always keeps in mind when the haters flood in: “Have you ever met a hater doing better than you? Me either.”
With all of the hateful people on the internet, it can be scary to share your story on social media – especially if you’re a farmer. When asked “Would you recommend other farmers to start their own social media page as a way to connect with consumers, give consumers information straight from the source and share their lives in the ag industry?” Nikki responded, “Definitely! I think social media is a great way to educate people about where their food comes from and the farming practices we utilize. There are so many wonderful things that farmers are doing for the environment and conservation. I firmly believe that the best place to learn about farms and how they run is from farmers.”