Orange County, North Carolina. The real OC. Okay, so maybe there aren’t actually groves upon groves of oranges, but Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas bring to mind a Faulkner-esque image of Southern landscape. Honeysuckle-scented air, wisteria-draped arbors, dilapidated farmhouses, picket fences, cows out to pasture, rusted pickup trucks.

And in the summer, the heat. The humid, heavy heat.

But there is more to this quintessential Southern town. The University of North Carolina has diversified the population and brought culture to new highs. Carrboro’s hip, laid-back style provides an atmosphere of creativity and artistic freedom. Orange County’s outskirts balance culture with natural beauty and agriculture.

The culmination of this juxtaposition? An amazing profusion of artists and artisans, often unsung in their own community. From apiaries to perfumers to herbalists and outsider artists, Orange County seems to be a creative hotspot. In true Southern style, these artists and artisans are low-key, slow to self promote. This column, The Artisanal Orange, aims to introduce residents and visitors to these neighbors — the artists and artisans among us.