A Thousand Pines Image

A Thousand Pines

By Chris Salce | October 24, 2023

Wood is the biggest resource used and produced in America. Every year, hundreds of crews travel the country to plant pine trees. A considerable amount of those crews are made up of Latino workers, here on temporary visas. A Thousand Pines documents the stories of one of these Latino crews.

Superior Forestry was founded by “hippie” tree planters who settled in Arkansas. Tree planting seemed like the perfect job for migrant citizens who loved nature. The tree planters lived off of working 50 weeks every year while building their homes and lives for the rest of the year. They would eventually hire Hispanic workers based on what they stated were “more productive.” Superior Forestry eventually became the biggest tree-planting company in America.

Raymundo Morales is from Oaxaca, Mexico, and is the foreman of a crew of pine tree planters who travels around the east three seasons out of the year. During planting season, Raymundo and many others leave their families in hopes of making more money to provide for their families back home. It is said that the planters could make up to three times more than the amount they make at home in Mexico. Sometimes, workers receive bad news about their families abroad. Several men in the group received unfortunate news about family members being sick or getting into an accident. The foreman, Raymundo, had the unfortunate news of hearing about his father’s illness while he was out in America working to provide for his family. The crew works in just about every type of weather condition to get the job done and ensure they get paid for it by their employer, Superior Forestry.

“…hundreds of crews travel the country to plant pine trees. A considerable amount of those crews are made up of Latino workers…”

A Thousand Pines tells a specific story of a small group of immigrant workers but is a story that thousands of people have in common. Not only Latinos but many immigrants come to America in hopes of providing a better life for their families. This documentary does a great job telling that story. These jobs, such as planting, farming, etc., are not easy whatsoever. Over the years, a debate has raged regarding what immigrant workers should be paid. The debate is also brought up in this film. The owners of Superior Forestry describe the idea behind hiring Latino workers and why they pay them the amount they do. And as the biggest tree-planting company in the business, it is hard to argue against them. Although, there can indeed still be a debate about it.

This documentary does a great job of showing all sides of the migrant labor debate. It shows the business side of it when hearing from the company’s owners, as it shows the stories behind the workers that make the company what it is. I also think that this film can open up discussions about fair pay and the moral side of things when it comes to how the workers are treated, that is, of course, if people give this kind of documentary a chance, considering it isn’t precisely topic that people are running to the theaters to hear about.

A Thousand Pines (2023)

Directed and Written: Noam Osband, Sebastian Diaz

Starring: Raymundo Morales, Rodolfo Morales, Arturo Sanchez, Michael Economopoulos, Tom Mcleod, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

A Thousand Pines Image

"…showing all sides of the migrant labor debate."

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