Aldinga sits on the South Australian coast about an hour south of Adelaide, and the sea air from St Vincent Gulf draws beach-goers by the hundreds every summer along with those who have made the sea change either in retirement or earlier in life. ANDY WILSON reports.

The Fleurieu Peninsula is home to some of the state’s finest vineyards and almond orchards and the rolling hills of winter green and summer gold cover a wealth of the famous Tatachilla fossils loved by palaeontologists everywhere.

A short stroll up the linear park from Aldinga beach lives Henrietta Child, whose entry into the world of agriculture is no longer new to her, but just as welcoming.

“For me personally, I really like growers,” Henrietta said.

“I really like the culture of growing fruit and I really love the business and the people we work with.”

The app keeps track of starting and finishing times of workers, their production rate, day’s harvest and identity. The working hours can then feed straight into the farmer’s preferred payroll software.

Over an hour away from Aldinga, Tony Trembath-Drake’s home office overlooks the trees of Belair National Park which backs onto the Adelaide Hills’ eclectic fruit and wine precincts.

Small Farms stumbled across the business partners almost halfway between the two homes, among the café set of leafy Blackwood, where cappuccinos sat among diaries, notes and a lot of industrious chatter.

Henrietta has a background in business, and from her almost-seaside home — connected to a handful of staff elsewhere interstate — she and Tony co-developed an app for farmers, both small and large, that timed perfectly with changing legislation around fruit-production labour hire.

“The labour laws in terms of keeping accounts, records of time worked and activity all changed, and there was a time when people just relied on labour hire companies and contractors who didn’t worry too much about keeping their records.

“But you certainly can’t do that any more, so they are all moving toward keeping better records.”

Henrietta’s former office in Adelaide’s Pirie St is an even further span from the pleasant orchards which she now has as client pads spreading from Brisbane to Tasmania, but it is where a chance meeting with computer programmer Tony seeded an idea.

They got chatting and soon the plan was hatched to design a phone app to streamline any fruit grower’s management of staff.

After first looking at pruning employment, they focused on harvesting.

Agpick has been designed to monitor and collate the picking work — either piece rate or time rate — of orchard and vineyard labourers and save growers a lot of headaches.

And despite producing between them a game-changer in horticulture human resources, neither Henrietta nor Tony has any background in the agriculture industry.

Naturally, they are very fast learners.

Henrietta Child had a chance meeting with Tony ’s former office in Adelaide’s Pirie Street is an even further span from the pleasant orchards which she now has as client pads spread from Brisbane to Tasmania, but is where a chance meeting with IT expert Tony Trembath-Drake at one of her start-up seminars saw her make the step into helping fruit producers.

Henrietta worked for many years in the IT industry on a variety of different projects for a range of employers.

“I was a contract manager, well outside of agriculture but I did have a lot of exposure to manufacturing and government, before running my own consultancy business,” she said.

“We did a lot of work with the SA government and with companies with growth potential and then we ran start-up programs based on leading start-up principles.”

With Tony now in a business partnership, Henrietta turned those principles into their own enterprise which Tony said reached a point where they knew they needed to go all-in.

“I said to Henrietta: ‘are you sure you want to do this? This is a business marriage’,” he said.

“This is a forever thing.”

The challenges came straight away but the team was determined to meet its goal, and so recognised each other’s expertise and left them to it.

“We had our own lanes, and they were very natural lanes,” Tony said.

“She knew tech’ well enough to not interfere with my speciality and I understood business processes enough to not interfere with hers.

“Usually in a start-up you have two techies or business experts, and they struggle because they don’t say ‘you look after this, and I’ll look after that’.”

Tony said the challenges with the ‘fresh’ software came right from the start, with him even working the computer one day after an appendectomy.

“Classic start-up stuff: appendix out one day, and the next day I’m on my laptop with my nose into a little script I was developing.”

Tony climbed the corporate ladder as an IT specialist and worked for large business in the Fosters Group and Accolade Wines. I looked after all the IT systems and with the rest of my time worked with software companies.

The duo said that their second customer made a significant difference.

“That customer really pushed us, and we built our full stats on their needs,” Tony said.

“Our full solution to those needs was because of their coming onboard; it’s been buzzing along since then.”

Agpick offers three products to allow orchards or vineyards both large and small to manage all facets of hiring fruit pickers, other seasonal staff and permanent labourers, allowing the easy capture of the work rate of employees in terms of either piece rate of harvesting or time-based rate for that and anything else, streamlining the time and wage calculations for each staff member.

The app then cooperates with the farmer’s usual pay software by simply entering the data so there’s nothing new to learn back in the office.

According to Henrietta, gone are the days of conflict as well, including mix-ups such as trays of fruit losing the rudimentary picker-identifying sticker on its way back to the shed, or staff swapping their place for someone else.

“The app is able to monitor starting and finishing times for pickers, avoid identity fraud and make any conflict among the rows a thing of the past.”

The advantage the pair believe they have over any competition is that the app is very easy to use.

“It has to be easy to pick up and go with, so all of our design principles are around ease of use,” Henrietta said.

One client has said the app saved their business the equivalent of two casual clerical workers.

Tony left sleepy Glenorchy in Hobart’s north in his 20s and after years of the corporate world, he hit a wall.

“I couldn’t deliver what was wanted so I decided to go into primary enterprises.

“I worked in Sydney then the Barossa Valley; I climbed the corporate ladder and worked for large business in the Fosters Group and Accolade Wines basically from the growing of grapes to the bottling hall.

“I looked after all the IT systems and with the rest of my time worked with software companies.

“The seminal moment I guess was the move to Adelaide,” Tony said.

“I was just not getting anything done with corporates; it’s just too slow.”

Tony agreed that working with farmers was exciting.

“The craziness of a six-week cherry season — I love it.”

Adapting the product to the grower’s needs is the key to success which seems second-nature to how both Henrietta and Tony have worked in the corporate world and the pair work side by side with growers tweaking the app to the orchard’s needs.

“A lot of systems are constrained so if something changes you are dead in the water, so having a history where you can see changes is useful,” Tony said.

“There are so many systems of harvesting.

“Some apple growers have pickers sharing the bins, so we then adapt the software to allow them to do that and so meet the picker’s weighted percentage of that bin.

“Another grower needed to track paid and unpaid staff breaks; that whole concept was new to me.

“I remember it was quite complex and I had come across it in the corporate world before, but that is now part of the core system.

“If you tell us how you do it, we can work with that.”


Agpick is an app designed to streamline monitoring and collating orchard and vineyard work – either piece rate or time rate – to save growers a lot of headaches.


The Agpick app has been adopted by soft fruit growers across Australia, ranging from Birsbane to Tasmania.