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Your Environment. Your Health.


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Principal Investigator: Zelikoff, Judith Terry
Institute Receiving Award New York University School Of Medicine
Location New York, NY
Grant Number R01ES033545
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 19 May 2022 to 28 Feb 2027
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The Ramapough Turtle Clan Chief states that, “Return of healthy soil on our farm will allow healthy plant production, resulting in healthy foods to nurture our bodies and mind with optimum results.” Native Tribes have been, and continue to be, exposed to disproportionate amounts of toxic waste as a product of decades of environmental injustice. Emerging from this disastrous situation are Native Americans (NA) who face an even greater risk of adverse health outcomes from contaminated soil that grows tainted traditional food sources, degraded recreational water sources leading to isolation and a loss of sovereignty, community strength and resiliency. Such is the case for the Ramapough Lunaape Turtle Clan members in northern NJ who live on a 500-acre toxic waste site generated by over a decade of industrial dumping of thousands of gallons of paint sludge with high levels of heavy metals and solvents. As no culturally-meaningful solutions have been implemented for the Ramapough community that could promote public health and well-being to date, we will build on our equitable 8-year-long Tribal-academic partnerships with this Tribal Nation to advance tradition- centered, evidence-based best practice strategies for sustainable environmental food systems that address food insecurity, nutritional deficiency, and chronic disease health outcomes among this community disproportionately affected by environmental contamination. Three Specific Aims and several sub-aims are proposed to test the hypothesis that a complex array of factors including soil, water and plant contamination, psychosocial stressors, displacement and environmental assaults to the land have led to a loss of food sovereignty and sustainability; and, that food security and cultural food practices can be renewed through a community-engineered farming system and educational strategies to: 1) Assess the extent of environmental contamination, individual toxicant burdens and micronutrient levels and health disorders in Ramapough Tribal members of both sexes; 2) Adapt and implement a community-centered farming program on the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm land informed by a design studio approach; and 3) Assess the development process and early outcomes of the farm program using an implementation science framework and refine the public health action plan for dissemination to reduce food insecurity, regain food sovereignty, and improve community health. This project will identify and implement safe and nutritious farming practices and restore food sovereignty among an environmentally-impacted and marginalized semi-urban Tribal Nation through development of a farming system program supported by the Turtle Clan-founded Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm. This innovative study will integrate a culturally-centered, environmental road map created from community input for food sovereignty and sustainability that can be shared and disseminated to other environmentally-impacted Nations leading to an environmental public health action plan based on our research findings.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 97 - Partnerships for Environmental Public Health/Community Research
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Liam O'Fallon
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