Small WNC fish hatchery might change view of agritourism

Sally Eason, the second generation of her family to own Sunburst Trout Farm in Canton, is hoping to someday teach the world to think outside of the field when it comes to sustainable farming. By the end of this year, Sunburst will open a second 12,000-square-foot facility in Waynesville Industrial Park. Sunburst intends to use the space for advancement in fish-processing technology and as a center for agritourism and aquaculture education. But it will be as far away from pumpkin patches and hayrides as agritourism gets. A Sunburst tour agenda will start at the trout runs in Canton and end at the Waynesville facility, full of razor-sharp fish-processing equipment.

“We’ll show people what it looks like to have a tray of 50,000 little bitty fish eggs, and what happens after they swim up and how long you keep them in the water before you move them somewhere else,” said Eason. “Then they can see what can be made with what started out as an egg, as they saw that morning.” The facility will also be equipped with four 4,000-gallon indoor aquaculture tanks with observation panels. “That way, we can take the kids through to see it, and they can actually look through the plexiglass and see what the fish are doing,” said Eason. She thinks that the tour will be an eye-opening look into a different type of farming.