Luffa Love: locally-grown luffas and herbs provide natural relief

Is it a sponge? Is it a plant? Just exactly what is a luffa and what are the benefits of using one? A visit to The Luffa Farm in Nipomo for a tour is just the thing you need to do to learn all about it.
“They’re sponges, right?” That’s the question most people ask when they come to the farm. And the answer is no, they are not sponges like the ones that live in the ocean. A luffa is a plant. Proprietor Deanne Coon and her family have been growing luffas for more than 20 years.
There was a time when Coon didn't know what a luffa was. Her introduction came from receiving a bunch of seeds from a college professor she knew in the Bay area. She and other members of her family took the seeds, but had no idea what they were. "We all thought they might be watermelon seeds," she says as she tells the story. After planting the seeds and finding the results, Coon was on to a new career.
Sometimes spelled loofah, there are commercial luffas available from outside of the United States but these have the disadvantage of being chemically treated to rid them of any diseases or bugs that could harm plants in this country. Then they are vacuum packed for shipping. Both the treatment and the packaging contribute to compromising the quality of the luffa making them abrasive. Since no treatment is necessary for luffas from The Luffa Farm, the resulting product is non-abrasive but still acts to exfoliate the skin. Athletes will find these natural luffa sponges a great asset in the shower after a workout. “Our luffas won’t give you raw skin,” Coon said, “just a good, soft, clean feeling.”
This luffa isn’t only good for the skin, it can be used to wash the car, clean the bathtub, or scrub the pots and pans. To clean it, it can be washed with a regular laundry load, but be sure to let it air dry. Drying it in a clothes dryer will shrink it and make it stiff and scratchy.
Along with luffas, the farm grows a variety of herbs that are used in handcrafted products such as soaps and lotions made on the property. The base for all the soaps is glycerin, with appropriate herbs mixed in. Lavender is used for its natural relaxing properties and is also an insect repellant. Spearmint is a natural astringent and is invigorating and energizing. Peppermint is good for sore muscles and aids people suffering from arthritis or bursitis. Chamomile is calming and healing while Rosemary soothes and relaxes muscles. Eucalyptus is good for muscle pain and rose, that smells so good, is calming and relaxing.
The soaps are hand-poured in micro batches and they produce wonderful rich lather and leave the skin feeling squeaky-clean. They contain no animal products, detergent, sulfates, alcohol, surfactants, or sugar solutions. They are crafted from 20% kosher glycerin and the finest vegetable oils making them hypoallergenic.
The Luffa Farm even makes a pet soap that aids in combating the excessive dry skin from flea infestations and flea treatments. The soap helps to replenish and moisturize the pet’s skin keeping itching and scratching to a minimum, and the special herbal blend helps to break the cycle of insect infestation.
Other products at The Luffa Farm Gift Shop include lavender and flax seed eye masks that, when heated, help to fight headaches and sinus problems and lavender and rice-filled neck wraps relieve aches and tension in the shoulders and neck. A selection of essential oils is available to be used in aromatherapy. There are bath teas and bath fizzlers, sachets, and glycerin based lotions lightly scented with oils. Assorted gift baskets containing a variety of these products make for good birthday or Christmas gifts.
The Luffa Farm can be toured from Wednesday through Sunday from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Call 805-343-0883 for more information or visit their web site at
By Ruth Ann Angus