The Loofah Patch
loofah / loofa / lufa / luffa - Luffa is the botanical name
Natural loofah are a type of gourd grown on a vine and are a member of the cucurbit family where they are grown for eating in many different countries. Many people think that they come from the ocean like sea sponges but they are grown on land and are 100% sustainable.
The large marrow looking fruit is very heavy so we use a solid structure to hold them up and make sure they grow nice and straight. The vines take up a lot of space and at peak growing time you can see the daily growth in the vine, this also means a lot of tying to ensure the tendrills can latch onto the structure. At the end of the season the plant starts taking all the nutrients and moisture back out of the heavy loofah and they start to dry off. When they become light and the skins begin to brown we harvest them.
We crack the skins open to reveal the network of fibres left behind - this is my favourite part, it's like opening a gift from nature to see the loofah inside. They then go through a lengthy cleaning process using only clean water to remove any fruit pulp and seeds. Once cleaned they are hung to dry in the sun, lucky for us Nelson has good sunshine hours.
We chose a variety that is well known around the world for it's softness and excellent fibre strength. If you would like to know more about the difference between our loofahs and the hard pumice type (Chinese loofah) available in NZ you can read more here