From a first crop of 8 luffas grown outdoors on dog-eared fencing in the Northern California area over 20 years ago to our greenhouses full of luffas now open to the public for tours, our story-like our luffa vines, has grown, and like the plants is ever changing with the seasons.
I have grown luffa sponges on my own fence, on neighborhood fences, on a five-acre plot in Missouri, and now nestled in a little corner of rural Nipomo, California. From the beginning I have used my original† luffa seeds to maintain the soft, non-abrasive quality of my luffas, and with the help of my family and friends, we now grow and harvest over 6,000 luffas yearly from our farm. The Luffa Farm luffas are different from any other luffa sponge you would find in the United States.
As a business, the beginnings of The Luffa Farm are a little unconventional. I moved to the beautiful central coast of California in 1999. I had grown luffas as a hobby for almost 20 years. Everyone who had ever felt one of my luffas was amazed by how¬†much softer and more inviting they felt than the ones sold in any store. At this point, I did not want to go work in an office or a hospital or at any other desk job. I thought if I could grow enough luffas and get them into a specialty store or even a local drugstore, I could make a quiet living and enjoy growing my luffas full time and concocting other natural herbal bath goods. When the time came, one of our local chain markets was clearly interested in supporting the local growers and had our Luffa Farm products displayed well. What we didn't expect was that once locals and tourists read "grown in Nipomo" on our label they would be so curious as to start showing up on our property to hopefully go out to the ocean and harvest luffas with us. My family and I found ourselves saying "No, they're not from the ocean. We grow them right here, in a greenhouse," over and over. Soon enough our daily lives were being altered to include our new drop in tourists. At that point we decided to open the greenhouse up for tours officially, and in doing so, I found it much easier to have a little gift shop built right next to my greenhouse so the luffa lovers could pick some up on the way back to their cars. And a couple years later, I had to have an additional greenhouse built to accomodate our enthusiastic visitors.
Now the typical free tour includes a little education on using a luffa-ours are totally different from anything you've ever felt. They are non-abrasive enough to wash dishes, cars, sinks, toys, golf clubs, floors, walls, windows, or whatever else you could think of. And of course, they are great for bathing. Anyone from a new born baby to a great-grandfather can use one of our luffas without worrying about scratchiness or raw skin. Our luffas won't give you raw skin-just a soft, clean feeling you can only get from proper exfoliation. An added bonus with our luffas is that they are machine-washable and dishwasher-safe. Although we must insist, out of concern for luffas everywhere, that you keep them out of the clothes dryer-it will make any luffa shrunken and scratchy.
You might be wondering why other luffas are so hard no matter what you do. There is a simple answer to that. The luffas you buy in stores are typically grown, or "made in" other countries, outside the United States. Before they are shipped into the United States, luffas, or loofahs, or luffahs, or any other of the various spellings, are chemically treated and vaccum-packed. This process gets rid of any diseases and bugs that may be wreaking havoc on plants in that country, but it compromises the quality of the luffa. Since our luffas are grown in the United States, we provide them to you, fresh and soft, straight off the vine, using only our heirloom seeds to ensure our unique feeling luffas.
Most people have no idea how luffas are grown, so the most fascinating section of our tour is when we take the tourist into our greenhouses and show them firsthand how the luffa vines look, which part of the flower the gourd grows from, how long it takes to grow a luffa, and best of all, some of the quirks the luffa plants are known for. It's a one-of-a-kind experience that I guarantee you won't find anywhere else.
And to wind up the tour, visitors walk a short distance back to the gift shop, smelling all the wonderful herbs we grow to put into our products and learning about their uses and their therapeutic qualities.
We're glad you've discovered† our website and hope that you will find time to enjoy one of our free Luffa Farm tours with your friends and family. For groups of 8 or more, we provide a catered lunch and tour, or tea and cookies and a tour. Conact us here for more information.