Luffa Gardens near Reedley grows luffa sponges. Luffa is in the cucumber family.
When the fruit matures, the pulp is washed away leaving a fibrous mesh.
Farmer Nathan Pauls says he first grew the plant out of curiosity.
He finds the luffa sponge superior to synthetic sponges for bathing and even housework like washing dishes. Pauls says, “The one in the sink we used until [the] next summer. And we couldn’t believe it. It was still intact. It didn’t smell. And I was going, ‘wow.’ … Maybe I should try making a little business out of it. Maybe a farmer’s market.”
Pauls sells on his website luffagardens.com as well as at local events and farmers markets.
He’s planting more vines and recently built a greenhouse in order to supply luffa year-round.