Members of a community orchard project have been left shocked to find the fruits of their labour missing.

Conwy Community Orchard has been stripped of hundreds of apples before they were due to ripen, disappointing the group which has been working to improve the orchard for the past 10 years and leading to speculation over the nature of the theft which was discovered on Saturday.

Mark Watson-Jones, chair of Conwy Orchard Community Group, said: “It is unfortunate that the orchard, and other fruit trees in the area, seem to have been targeted by persons collecting all they can, possibly for some commercial enterprise.”

Plans to donate fruit to Ty Gobaith Hospice and Ysgol Porth y Felin, and to sell at a stall at Gwledd Conwy Feast to raise funds for further conservation, are now in doubt as a result of the incident with the upcoming public harvest cancelled. 

“The orchard is a community resource, and we are always pleased to see members of the public helping themselves to some of the fruit, but we would urge everyone in future to harvest the fruit only when it is ripe and in a spirit of co-operation and sharing.”

The group’s efforts to restore the badly neglected historical orchard - situated outside the town walls - was recognised last year with Green Flag status, the benchmark standard for well managed public green spaces, which it has retained this year.

The Community Orchard are currently accepting donations from owners of local apple tree owners will to help make up the shortfall for the food festival