The most basic definition of a kitchen garden is "a small garden normally close to the house used to raise herbs and vegetables for cooking purposes." You might be thinking, "isn't that the definition of any garden?" We have to dig a little deeper (no pun intended) to get the heart of the kitchen garden.
Back in medieval Europe (think 1000A.D.) there were only a few jobs that people had. Besides craftsmen, clergy, soldiers, and wealthy/powerful owners of many things, there were farmers. Typically these farmers lived on land owned by someone else (the wealthy and powerful people) and worked for them in exchange for protection. These people farmed fields. That is, they grew things that took up a lot of space like corn, wheat, potatoes, sheep, cows, etc. That was their job - they left home each day and worked for 'the man.'
When they came home each day, they were hungry. Because they didn't have refrigerators or grocery stores, they needed to get their food from somewhere else. This brings us to the kitchen garden! The kitchen garden was the refrigerator and grocery store of the old days. It was small, well organized, and provided the family with food (and even medicine) the year round.
So...why have a modern kitchen garden? First off, life 1000 years ago doesn't sound that different from life today. People left their homes each morning to go to a job and then returned home each evening to eat a meal with their families. The only difference between then and now is that people then ate real, fresh, unprocessed foods. In a day and age when food cleanliness, personal health, and environmental conciousness are on many people's minds, a modern kitchen garden might be just the answer.
The Historic Kitchen Garden - an in-depth look
Farm-to-Table - map the journey