I'm Pete McLean and True North is my baby.  It has been born from trial and error and error and error and...you get the picture.  And now, here it is.  A project committed to equipping and empowering individuals and teams to achieve the results they want while deepening the relationships they hold most dear.  

I made my living for the past 8 years as a vegetable farmer and community educator.  I moved to Amherst to work at Brookfield Farm.  Did that for 3 years then Tobin Porter-Brown and I started Book & Plow Farm up the road at Amherst College.  It was at Book & Plow where I started to feel the ache.  It was a literal ache at first. 

I broke my back.  Broke it in January.  Operated on it in June.  

I sprang back to work after the surgery ache free.  The ache, though, changed form and came back.  Six months in a bed, depressed, sad, and scared led to a lot of questioning.  Who am I?  What do I have to offer if I’m not farming?  If I have nothing to offer, will anyone love me?  I’m a big, physical guy.  I’ve been praised for it my whole life as an athlete and then as a farmer.  My physicality was my identity.  That identity was being called into question.  

The years since my 2014 surgery have been a quest to answer those questions for myself.  A quest to understand what I offer, where my value stems from, and what I am willing to risk to live the life I’ve been aching for.  I joined the Mankind Project, a group that does incredible work in regards to emotional intelligence, integrity and accountability with men to reclaim what masculinity can look like, act like, talk like.  I went to weekend workshops and trainings aimed at answering these questions for myself.  I began to read anything I could get my hands on in regards to human development, human potential, and basic human goodness.  I found teachers and mentors to guide me in my search.  


I then began seeing overlaps between my quest and my work as Program Director at Book & Plow.  I quickly realized that I spent much more of my time thinking about how to engage a 1700 person student body than how to grow a carrot.  After 4 years, creating 16 different programs, and facilitating over 5000 student participants I realized I’m way more into growing people than I am food.  In 2016, I launched a pilot program focused on coaching individuals through change, through understanding themselves more deeply, through career change, through whatever they brought with them into my office.  

After having seen over 50 clients in the first 4 months, working with 2 different teams of over 20 and transitioning Book & Plow Farm to Amherst College, I am even more confident in my move further out towards that ache.  That ache to move.  That ache to step.  That ache to make happen what I know is possible for myself.  


  • Mankind Project – Current Trainer and Facilitator
  • The Event, a Breakthrough Training – 2 Time Attendee, 2014 and 2016
  • New Warrior Training Adventure – Attendee 2015, Staff 2016
  • B.A in Sociology from Messiah College
  • Sorceress’s Apprenticeship
  • Small Business Planning – MDAR


  • I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to co-facilitate community programs with Pete. The entire process- brainstorming, actualizing, performing, and fine-tuning - is a joy when collaborating with Pete. He is a clear, concise communicator; a celebrator of authentic self; a champion of unexpected connection; and an all-around blast to be around. His energy and spirit are noticeably contagious. I feel confident when delving in to a project with Pete that our final product or program will be compelling and successful.
    — Erin Elise Ferrentino
  • Pete is approachable, smart, and personable.  He was able to adeptly and efficiently untangle what I perceived to be a complex puzzle of blurry ideas and overwhelming feelings.  He has a breadth of skills and exceptional focus.  He showed me that I could not only be aware of myself and my patterns, but harness the power to be proactive about my actions and emotionally supportive to myself in a premeditated way.  I had never thought about that slant, but this tactic has stayed with me; in fact, it is something that I hope I forever keep.  Thank you, Pete!
    — M.B., 40
  • This past November, I allowed myself to become highly cynical about the world and people around me. Pete's genuineness, vivid anecdotes, and years of active listening experience helped me realize that if I was to advocate for a more just world, I first needed to reexamine my negative judgement of other people and society at large. The change I felt after a few long conversations was like night and day.
    —  Amherst College Student, Class of 2017
  • Pete is one of the keenest, kindest listeners I've encountered, and it is this combination of razor-sharp attention and sincerity that made our meetings so transformative. Like a wolf on the hunt, he would track my blind spots with a quiet tenacity, and when he'd find them, his killer instinct turned to skillful compassion, offering truly unique counsel that could only come from someone as brilliant and big-hearted as himself. Each meeting with this natural-born advisor was a treasure.
    — Andrew F
  • After just one session with Pete, I was reminded of an inner power that has since been awakened and engaged. I'm much further down my path in a huge part because of his guidance. His style is direct, warm, honest, and energized, all qualities I look for in a strong facilitator.
    — Greg, Montague
  • Pete has the rare quality of being able to convey unconditional positive regard in such a way that people feel instantly safe, at ease and cared for. This established a level of trust at our first meeting that opened the door for me to talk about deep issues.
    — Jessica Gifford, Founder, Thrive: Growing Wellness
  • Balanced, humble, and in touch. When I'm with Pete for counsel I have come to trust that he will be honest, open, and talk to me in a way that meets me where I am at. He asks concise, clear questions to focus and hone his intuition, to understand where we're going. H then embarks with me on an exploration to imagine and map out what's possible and where I'm going.
  • Pete's very steady. He comes from a heart place, grounded in connection, relationship, and purpose. I take deeper breaths when I'm with him.
    — Ryan Richards
  • Working with Pete over the years has given me a lens to view my inner value, and helped bring this to the surface and to offer it to the world. I have seen tangible results from applying specific tactics developed with Pete and I am certain the yield will remain fruitful for many years to come. I can say, without compromise, I have adopted a greater sense of self-worth, of community, and of collaboration, as a product of Pete's insightful mentorship.
    — Peter Brown, President, Earth Investments LLC
  • I've never been more comfortable with a counselor as I was during my sessions with Peter. Peter was remarkably warm and supportive yet proficient at helping me understand more about myself. He's given me tools to help channel my emotions and thinking away from anxiety, distrust and uncertainty and towards compassion, acceptance and understanding.
    — Paul Kastuk, 32
  • Working with Pete to identify clear steps into a new career was exhilarating. He is a skilled listener and was 100% invested in the work. To boot, he's a joy to work with. Coming out of our session, I feel empowered and energized.
    — Nate, Montague
  • After working with Peter McLean, I find he excels at creating a safe ritual space a shared connection to the present moment and to each other an ability to remove himself from my work and facilitate my revealing and accepting my hidden beliefs and truths and then facilitate strategies for dealing with what is revealed I find him kind and curious and skilled.  I recommend him highly.
    — Lawrence Quigley
  • My journey of self-compassion really began with my meeting with Pete. His demeanor and verbal toolbox allowed him to serve as a mirror for me to begin to explore parts of myself that I had yet to befriend. I have been inspired to continue with the same compassion for myself as he exhibited toward me in our meeting, which is a valuable practice indeed.
    — Hope Kelly
  • My experience when doing important "internal" work with Pete McLean is that he is a rare human being with a true gift for bringing to light the essence of both what I needed named and known as my "work" and, furthermore, then facilitating that with such integrity, skill, and sensitivity.  
  • There are people who choose an occupation because they have a skill set.  There are individuals who choose a vocation because they have passion for it.   And then there is that limited number of humans who have an incredible skill set -- ability to be empathetic; listen deeply; who know that there is no formulaic answer to a unique human being's desire for understanding, meaning, and direction (sometimes bushwhacking is required); and the capacity for sincere questions, dialogue, practice, reflection and genuine support -- that will help lead an individual to the answer(s) and path they seek (since almost the entire answer will be found inside the individual themself).